In 1939, photographer Dorothea Lange traveled the United States photographing thousands of people suffering the consequences of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression. Although much of the country was on the road to recovery at this point, the decade-long drought on the Great Plains continued to displace rural laborers and white-collar workers alike.
While taking photographs of people from North Carolina to Oregon, Lange also collected their stories. These quotes from the subjects are included in the title of each photo at the Library of Congress.
See our slideshow of some of the most human moments Lange captured for an unparalleled look into the American spirit in 1939
Humans of 1939
She: "I want to go back to where we can live happy, live decent, and grow what we eat."
He: "I've made my mistake and now we can't go back. I've got nothing to farm with."
Twenty-five year old drifter, California
"On the road eight years, all over the country, every state in the union, back and forth, pick up a job here and there, travelling all the time."
Carrot picker, California
"Are you going to take my picture? Wait till I get my hair combed"
Deputy sheriff, Oregon
On maintaining order: "We have to kinda keep them scared as much as anything."
Woman in mobile camp, Oregon
"We made good money in the cherries this year. From then on we made just beans."
Drought refugee, Washington
"Came to Washington three years ago in that Chevy coupe you see over there and twenty-five dollars cash. Had 480 acres back there. I dried out after thirty years, lost it, and walked out."
Rural rehabilitation client, Washington
"My father made me work. That was his mistake, he made me work too hard. I learned about farming but nothing out of the books."
Grandmother in a contractor's camp, California
"Been in California fourteen months from Oklahoma. The main thing is to get our families located and quieted down. Ain't no use to send them back; it's a waste of money. They won't stay."
Lemon pickers, California
"It's easy for us because we haven't got a bunch of kids to get drug around."
Family from Dallas Texas, in California
"There's no future here. I've been following the work (migratory labor) but there's no chance for a fellow to get a holt hisself in this country. The last job I had is tractor driving for thirty-five cents an hour. Had that job for five months until a Filipino comes along for twenty-five cents an hour. I was raised on a cotton farm my father owned a little place back there and I'm plumb willing to leave this country for good before I get too old, If I could get the chance to farm."