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Penn State University Libraries

Times of Sorrow and Hope

How to Use This Site

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Little boy in Conway. January 1941. Jack Delano.

The Times of Sorrow and Hope website is dedicated to documenting the Pennsylvania photographs in the FSA-OWI collection and making them accessible to the public. The main feature of this website is the catalog of approximately 6,000 Pennsylvania photographs that have so far been identified. The catalog offers comprehensive information about each photograph, and we eventually hope to include links to the actual images.

The main catalog lists the photographs only under the name of the photographer. We also have provided five guide pages, currently viewable as PDF files, to give viewers a broader range in which to search. Each guide is specifically indexed to help viewers find what they need as quickly and as easily as possible. The photographs are categorized by Dates, Personal Names, Photographers, Places, and Subjects.

In time, the catalog will be upgraded to a database that will enhance the catalog’s searchability and ease of use. Until then, follow the simple instructions below to learn more. If you already know what you’re looking for, you can go straight to the Catalog.


Choose a Photo

Begin by opening up the guide that is most appropriate for finding the topic that interests you. Once you have found a photograph you would like to learn more about, note the photographer’s name, the date, and the place, and move on to the Online Catalog.

Guide to Dates
For example, “I am looking for a photo taken in the Spring of 1941.”

Guide to Personal Names
For example, “I am curious about whether photos of my grandmother were taken in Pennsylvania during the Depression.”

Guide to Photographers
For example, “I am interested in the work of Ben Shahn.”

Guide to Places
For example, “I’d like to see photos of what Allentown looked like in the late 1930s.”

Guide to Subjects
For example, “I am researching Pennsylvania farm workers.”

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Homemade swimming pool built by stellworkers for their children. Pittsburgh, July 1938. Arthur Rostein

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Italian workers from Trenton and nearby areas grading and bunching asparagus in the packing house. Starkey Farms, Morrisville, May 1941. Marion Post Wolcott.

Find a Photo

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Miner and mule at the American Radiator Company Mine. Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County, February 1936. Carl Mydans

The Online Catalog

• Locate the photographer by last name in the Online Catalog and find the citation for your specific photograph. A typical citation lists the place, title, and date of the photo, followed by the sources for the photograph. If a digital image exists on the Library of Congress website, two access numbers for that online collection are given.







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Bethlehem graveyard and steel mill. November 1935. Walker Evans.

For example:

A photograph in the Online Catalog with the access numbers fsa 8d32915 (digital identification number) and LC-USW3-037187-E (class number) can be located through the “Searching Numbers” section of the Library of Congress website.


View a Photo

• Visit the Library of Congress website, or go directly to the “Searching Numbers” page.

•On the search page, type in one of the access numbers cited in our Online Catalog to view all the information available on the photograph and, if available, a high-quality version of the image.


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Practicing for the fair held on the U.S. Resettlement Administration's Subsistence Homestead Project. Greensburg vicinity, Westmoreland Homesteads, 1937. Ben Shahn.