Library of Congress Features Color Pics of the Depression and WW II Era

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Americans are accustomed to looking at the Depression in black and white. But a more vibrant nation appears in an exhibition of 70 color photographs that opens Thursday at the Library of Congress. Culled from a collection of little-known color images made by photographers from the federal Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information, the prints bring alive everyday rural life between 1939 and 1943.

A few photographs from the full cache of 1,602 images illustrated music-album covers in the 1960's. But the pictures - recorded by about a dozen photographers to document the Depression's effects on rural America and to rally support for government relief efforts - received little attention after ending up at the Library of Congress in 1946, said Beverly W. Brannan, the library's curator for prints and photographs.

"There were questions for years about whether color photography was truly art," she said. "They were not taken as seriously as black-and-white images." The library also became the repository for 171,000 black-and-white photographs from the farm agency and the war information office.

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