Living in rural Forest County in the 1930’s was tough. Newspaper articles, court records and family stories tell of multiple families living in one room shacks trying to farm the cut-over land with little or no success. Now a U.S. government collection of historic photos offers us a glimpse at just how tough it was. The photos are just part of a new website with interactive browsing tools Photogrammar developed by Yale University.
Housed in the Library of Congress for the past half-decade, the images of rural America were commissioned by the government in 1935 to gain public support for efforts to resettle poor farmers displaced during the Great Depression. A story Forest County farmers knew first hand. In fact “an elderly couple who found it no longer possible to make a living on their farm in the Forest county cutover timber region” was the first family in the United States to receive the benefit of the United States Resettlement Administration. [Appleton Post-Crescent, 03/01/1937, p18.]
Only 35 of the 170,000 photos on the site are of Forest county. However each of the 35 photos tell a story and remind us how grateful we are to those who chose to settle the land we now call home.