America’s Children – 1940′s Photographs by John Vachon

Pin It

John Vachon was a photographer for the Office of War Information (OWI) from 1942-1943, before serving in the army until 1945. He later became a staff photographer at both Life and Look magazine. Vachon’s work for the OWI led him and several other photographers around the country to capture what everyday life was like for millions of Americans. A small percentage of these photographs were in color, but the majority of Vachon’s were in black and white, capturing the faces of adults and children living their lives while an increasing number of brothers and sons went off to war.  You can learn more about John Vachon’s life and career on his Wikipedia page.

Rural school girl, San Augustine County, Texas

Rural school girl, San Augustine County, Texas

Dr. Schreiber of San Augustine giving a typhoid innoculation at a rural school, San Augustine County, Texas

Dr. Schreiber of San Augustine giving a typhoid innoculation at a rural school, San Augustine County, Texas

Rural school children, San Augustine County, Texas

Rural school children, San Augustine County, Texas

Negro boy near Cincinnati, Ohio

Negro boy near Cincinnati, Ohio

San Augustine, Texas. Amanda Gayer, the county nurse, advising a mother on child care problems

San Augustine, Texas. Amanda Gayer, the county nurse, advising a mother on child care problems

San Augustine, Texas. Children having an Easter egg hunt on the school grounds on the last day of school before Easter vacation

San Augustine, Texas. Children having an Easter egg hunt on the school grounds on the last day of school before Easter vacation

San Augustine, Texas. Girl at NYA (National Youth Administration) woodworking shop in the war training program

San Augustine, Texas. Girl at NYA (National Youth Administration) woodworking shop in the war training program

San Augustine, Texas. Farm family in town on Saturday morning

San Augustine, Texas. Farm family in town on Saturday morning

Nacogdoches County, Texas. Children of a farmer in a pine woods area

Nacogdoches County, Texas. Children of a farmer in a pine woods area

San Augustine, Texas. Children in Sunday school at the Baptist church

San Augustine, Texas. Children in Sunday school at the Baptist church

San Augustine, Texas. Rural school children

San Augustine, Texas. Rural school children

San Augustine, Texas. Children on the main street

San Augustine, Texas. Children on the main street

San Augustine, Texas. High school girls at the Spanish Club banquet

San Augustine, Texas. High school girls at the Spanish Club banquet

San Augustine, Texas. Girl making chairs in the woodworking shop under the NYA (National Youth Administration) war training program

San Augustine, Texas. Girl making chairs in the woodworking shop under the NYA (National Youth Administration) war training program

San Augustine, Texas. A school girl

San Augustine, Texas. A school girl

San Augustine, Texas. A school boy

San Augustine, Texas. A school boy

San Augustine, Texas. Colored boy holding a horse for a cattle buyer at the auction

San Augustine, Texas. Colored boy holding a horse for a cattle buyer at the auction

San Augustine, Texas. High school students dancing at the Spanish Club banquet

San Augustine, Texas. High school students dancing at the Spanish Club banquet

Orange, Texas. This high school girl in training for nursery school work spends an hour daily with children of shipyard workers in the "laboratory" nursery school

Orange, Texas. This high school girl in training for nursery school work spends an hour daily with children of shipyard workers in the “laboratory” nursery school

New Orleans, Louisiana. Little girl

New Orleans, Louisiana. Little girl

Scott County, Missouri. Doctor visits sick child at home

Scott County, Missouri. Doctor visits sick child at home

Amarillo, Texas. Little girl waiting to board the Rock Island Rocket

Amarillo, Texas. Little girl waiting to board the Rock Island Rocket

Anaconda, Montana. Boy

Anaconda, Montana. Boy

Phillips refinery. Borger, Texas. An employee leaving for work

Phillips refinery. Borger, Texas. An employee leaving for work

Phillips refinery. Borger, Texas. Worker returning from work

Phillips refinery. Borger, Texas. Worker returning from work

New Orleans, Louisiana. Negro dock worker and son

New Orleans, Louisiana. Negro dock worker and son

Burlington, Iowa. Sunnyside unit, FSA (Farm Security Administration) trailer camp. Sunday evening card game with neighbors in the trailer of the Heller family, who work at the Burlington ordnance plant

Burlington, Iowa. Sunnyside unit, FSA (Farm Security Administration) trailer camp. Sunday evening card game with neighbors in the trailer of the Heller family, who work at the Burlington ordnance plant

Orange, Texas. Extended school day program in the public schools. These children are weaving after the regular school day is over, while waiting for their parents to finish work and call for them

Orange, Texas. Extended school day program in the public schools. These children are weaving after the regular school day is over, while waiting for their parents to finish work and call for them

Orange, Texas. Extended school day program in the public schools. These children are working on their garden after the regular school day is over, waiting for their parents to finish work and call for them

Orange, Texas. Extended school day program in the public schools. These children are working on their garden after the regular school day is over, waiting for their parents to finish work and call for them

Orange, Texas. Negro boys whose parents are both employed, modeling in clay at a nursery school

Orange, Texas. Negro boy whose parents are both employed, modeling in clay at a nursery school

Share This Post on Facebook




Join 20,000+ Photography Blogger readers to receive weekly photography inspiration.

  • 3

  • Comments
  • VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    1
  1. Chris

    Superb collection of a world that seems very distant, yet is not. Truly memorably photos. Artistic merit here is irrelevant, the true value lies in the memories captured.

    • Reply
  2. maria thereza de barros camargo

    It would be sad not to have people looking for old pictures, photos and things, we would loose them from sight. Thank yu Elizabeth, your effort is blessed and helped by God, for sure. Keep it on, congratulations and thank you!

    • Reply
  3. Gareth O'Neill Photography

    These photos reek of hard times. “Negro boy whose parents are both employed”. Yikes that’s nasty.

    • Reply

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated. Please no spam and be kind to each other!

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Back To Top