May 13, 2005 Exhibition on Color Photographs of America Opens Sept. 8

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Contact: View the exhibition online. | View the FSA/OWI collection.

“Bound for Glory: America in Color, 1939-1943” is the first major exhibition of the little-known color images taken by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI). It will be on view from Sept. 8 through Nov. 26, in the South Gallery of the Great Hall of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. Following the exhibition’s run at the Library, “Bound for Glory” will travel to up to 10 cities across the United States.

Featuring 70 digital prints made from color transparencies taken between 1939 and 1943, this exhibition provides an unusual record of a period in American history previously seen only in black and white. These vivid full-color portraits capture the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small-town populations, the nation’s tireless efforts to overcome economic challenges and its patriotic response to mobilization for World War II.

The photographs in “Bound for Glory,” many by famed photographers such as John Vachon, Jack Delano, Russell Lee, and Marion Post Wolcott, document not only the subjects in the pictures, but also the dawn of a new era—the Kodachrome era. These colorful images mark a historic divide in visual presentation between the monochrome world of the pre-modern age and the brilliant hues of the present.

Approximately one dozen photographers were employed by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and its successor agency, the Office of War Information (OWI), from 1935 through 1944. The original goal of the government project was to record, through documentary photographs, the ravages of the Depression on America’s rural population and were intended to spur Congress and the American public to support government relief efforts. With an improved economy, increased industrialization and the onset of World War II, the photographs increasingly focused on an America that was productive, beautiful and determined. The photographs, originally intended to have a narrow focus, provide a broader national record.

To coincide with the opening of the exhibition in September, a presentation of these selected images will be accessible on the Library’s Web site at The complete collection of FSA/OWI photographs—171,000 black-and-white images and 1,602 color images—is available on the Library’s Web site at

The 70 images in the exhibition were chosen from 175 photographs found in “Bound for Glory,” a 192-page hardcover book published in 2004 by the Library in association with Harry N. Abrams Inc. This companion publication includes a Library of Congress reference number for each of the photographs, which allows readers to search for the specific image online or order photographic prints from the Library’s Photoduplication Service ( The book is available for $35 in bookstores nationwide and in the Library’s Sales Shop. For credit card orders, call (888-682-3557).


PR 05-119
ISSN 0731-3527