Farm Life: Wake Forest in 1939

Nearly 80-years ago, a New Deal photographer traveled to Wake Forest to snap these indelible images of Depression Era farm life on a property just past the outskirts of town.

The images are from the treasure trove of pictures taken by the roving photographers of the Farm Security Administration. As part of the New Deal, the FSA’s mission was to help small farmers in rural America struggling in the grip of the Great Depression.

Later expanded to become the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, the program resulted in something never done before: a series of 175,000 black-and-white negatives that thoroughly document the experience of American life in rural areas, cities, and towns from 1935 to 1944.

Many of those images are now available online through the Library of Congress Digital Collections. As property of the U.S. government, all but a few are in the public domain.

The Wake Forest photographs were taken by Marion Post Wolcott in November 1939. Background information is slim. They are accompanied by this caption:

Baling hay on the Mary E. Jones place of about 140 acres. The sons W.E. and R.E. Jones own ninety-nine and sixty acres respectively. There are eight mules on the entire place, two cows, and this year, forty acres in tobacco–no cotton. They have owned it about forty years. It is on Route No. 91, about two miles from Wake Forest, Wake County, North Carolina

One year later, Mary E. Jones was listed in the 1940 Census as a widow living on Rolesville Road. If you have more information about the Jones family–or recognize someone in these pictures–please reply in the comments section.

The museum would love to hear from you!

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