These Photos Capture How Americans Celebrated the Holidays 80 Years Ago

Scenes from a trove of Depression and World War II images.

OSI-WPA/Yale

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Some of the most legendary images of America during the 1930s and 1940s were taken by photographers working for the Farm Security Agency-Office of War Information. The New Deal agency employed photographers like Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, and Walker Evans. The agency’s more than 170,000 photos, which are archived include many holiday scenes; here are few that show Americans shopping, celebrating, traveling, and making the best of tough times.

Shoppers and children at the R.H. Macy department store, New York City, December 1942. Photographs by Marjory Collins

FSA-OWI/Yale

A Christmas tree over the door of a bar in Philadelphia, 1938. Photograph by Paul Vanderbilt

FSA-OWI/Yale

Children eating Christmas dinner on a farm near Smithfield, Iowa, December 1936. Photograph by Russell Lee

FSA-OWI/Yale

Farm children wrapping presents, near Dickens, Iowa, December 1936. Photograph by Russel Lee

FSA-OWI/Yale

A woman at midnight mass on Christmas Eve in New York City, 1942. Photograph by Marjory Collins 1942

FSA-OWI/Yale

Scenes from the Christmas rush at the Greyhound bus depot in Washington, D.C., December 1941. Photographs by John Collier.

FSA-OWI/Yale

Mr. and Mrs. Di Costanzo at their New York City restaurant on New Year’s Eve, December 1942. Photograph by Marjory Collins

FSA-OWI/Yale

Children blowing horns on Bleecker Street on New Year’s Day. Photographs by Marjory Collins

FSA-OWI/Yale

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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