This Historic Photo Has Never Been Edited.


The Great Depression began in October 1929 with the largest stock market crash America had ever seen. By 1933, as many as 13 to 15 million Americans were without work and almost half of the nation’s banks had gone under. Fortunately, Virginia fared better than many states thanks to factors like agricultural diversity, limited manufacturing reliance, and diverse commerce. Likewise, a large government and military presence in Washington and Norfolk brought in much-needed government funds.

However, in the end, the Great Depression in Virginia spared no one and the residents saw their fair share of hard times. Some of the hardest hit were in rural areas, of which Virginia had many. The following historic photos of Virginia show many of those areas, as well as a few of the equally devastated urban areas. Collectively, they remind us of just how much we have to be thankful for — even during trying times.

1. Farmers cradling wheat in Montgomery County near Christiansburg, 1939.
2. A young Nelson County boy sits on the porch of a general store in Roseland, 1938.
3. Young farmers walk their cow along a rural road in Allegheny County, 1939.
4. Young farm boys cradling wheat on a farm near Sperryville in Rappahannock County, 1936.
5. Families in Richmond stand outside their homes, 1938.
6. Bargain tombstones in Lexington, 1939.
7. The Chapel Tower at Hampton Institute, 1936.
8. A craftsman at the Chopawamsic Recreational Project makes “shakes” (hand-made, wooden shingles) in Stafford County, 1936.
9. A laborer on the Chopawamsic Recreational Project, 1936.
10. Locals gather on the porch of the post office in the small town of Nethers in Madison County, 1935.
11. Russ Nicholson was one of the farmers who was displaced. When this photo was taken in 1935, he was grandfather to all of the Nicholson children living in Nicholson Hollow.
12. A mountain farmer lays apples out to dry on the roof of his cabin in Nicholson Hollow near Old Rag Mountain in Madison County, 1935.

Related Stories

The Mystical Place In Virginia Where Dinosaurs Once Roamed

There’s A Ghost Town Hidden In The Woods At Virginia’s False Cape State ParkGreat Falls Park Is A Fascinating Spot in Virginia That’s Straight Out Of A Fairy Tale

13. Fannie Corbin with one of her daughters in Corbin Hollow. Fannie was the mother of 22 children at the time of this photo in 1935.
14. Inside a Corbin Hollow home, 1935.
15. Mrs. Eddie Nicholson would frequently go to the Skyland Resort to beg from the few remaining tourists, 1935.
16. A mountain farmer sells apples and cider by the side of Lee Highway in Rockingham County, 1935.
17. The Dodson family at home in the small community of Old Rag in Page County before they were relocated, 1935.
18. Mrs. Dodson with three of her nine children, 1935.
19. Milton Puryeur of Dennison in Halifax County kills hogs for a neighboring landowner, 1939.
20. A woman huddles in the doorway of a decrepit storefront in Newport News, 1937.
21. Produce piles up outside of the Barter Theatre in Abingdon as patrons “barter” their way in to see stage productions, 1930s.
22. John D. Ferguson and his son riding in their wagon in Pittsylvania County, 1939.
23. The McDonald’s farm near Fincastle in Botetourt County, 1934.
24. A handbill that was passed around in Herndon in 1936 announcing the auction of a family farm.
25. A soldier keeping guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, 1934.

These powerful images are poignant reminders of a time that many Virginians still remember, whether for themselves or through the stories of parents and grandparents. And they certainly drive home the fact that we have much to be grateful for, especially as we recognize that there are many who are still in need, even in Virginia.

Do you know much about the Great Depression? What are your thoughts on these historic photos of Virginia? We would love to hear any stories you might have to share. Please feel free to pass along your thoughts and stories in the comments below.


Leave a Comment