The way we were
The appeal of a book like Bound for Glory: America in Color 1939-43 is that it can literally change our view of history. New Deal photographers working under the auspices of the Farm Security Administration began chronicling the country in color with the advent of Kodak's Kodachrome film in the mid-1930s. Depicting ordinary Americans many of them living hardscrabble lives in the country's rural areas the images in this book are breathtaking both for their brilliant color and their rareness. Women wear vivid plaids and florals and landscapes are in rich greens and placid blues. We see street corners and swimming holes, country fairs and dining tables, as well as big-city life in Chicago and Washington, D.C. After the start of World War II, the FSA became part of the Office of War Information; the change is obvious as the photographs begin to resemble war posters picturing men and women, factories and trains all co-opted into the war effort. Still, the faces of the men, women and children taken before the economic boom are the most striking. As author Paul Hendrickson writes, quoting an old folk song, one can't help wondering "whatever happened to the faces in the old photographs?"