Betty Rivard

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New Deal Photographs of West Virginia, 1934-1943

Edited by Betty Rivard; Foreword by Carl Fleischhauer; Introduction by JERRY B. THOMAS
West Virginia University Press

Upon entering the White House in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt faced an ailing economy in the throes of the Great Depression and rushed to transform the country through recovery programs and legislative reform. By 1934, he began to send professional photographers to the state of West Virginia to document living conditions and the effects of his New Deal programs. The photographs from the Farm Security Administration Project not only introduced “America to Americans,” exposing a continued need for government intervention, but also captured powerful images of life in rural and small town America.
New Deal Photographs of West Virginia, 1934-1943 presents images of the state’s northern and southern coalfields, the subsistence homestead projects of Arthurdale, Eleanor, and Tygart Valley, and various communities from Charleston to Clarksburg and Parkersburg to Elkins. With over one hundred and fifty images by ten FSA photographers, including Walker Evans, Marion Post Wolcott, Arthur Rothstein, and Ben Shahn, this collection is a remarkable proclamation of hardship, hope, endurance, and, above all, community. These photographs provide a glimpse into the everyday lives of West Virginians during the Great Depression and beyond.

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