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Monday, September 8, 2014

A Visual History of Farm Life in America 1935-1946

Photogrammar is a new project published by Yale and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Photogrammar is a catalog of more than 170,000 photographs taken by 1935-1944 by the Farm Security Administration — Office of War Information. The purpose of the photographs was to document life of the poorest third of farmers in America as an attempt to raise public support for the FSA's programs for farmers.

Photogrammar has organized the photographs in the collection into an interactive map. On the Photogrammar map you will find counties highlighted across the United States. Click on one of the highlighted counties to find a link to the photographs taken in that county.

Applications for Education
At first glance I thought of Photogrammar as just another neat combination of historical imagery and digital maps. As I read into the background of the Farm Security Administration — Office of War Information's purpose in photographing poor farmers I thought about lessons in the use of media to influence public opinion.

As an activity in understanding the use of media I would have students explore the photographs in the map (perhaps even using photographs from where they live) and select the photographs that grabbed their attention the most. After selecting a few photographs I would have students attempt to identify the elements of the photographs that grabbed their attention and how those elements could impact how they felt about the FSA's programs to support farmers.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing Photogrammar some time last week.