Current Museum Exhibit
FSA Cooperative Boar, July 1940
Russell Lee, photographer
Between the Wars:
The Great Depression in Northern Utah
Oct. 17 through Dec. 12, 2015
By Mary Alice Hobbs
When the stock market crashed on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1929, “Black Tuesday” triggered the Great Depression. Initially the event was referred to as an economic slump, a passing incident in our national lives and an economic downturn. Unfortunately, Americans would experience the longest, deepest and most widespread depression of the 20th century.
Utah was among the states hit hardest by the Great Depression that lasted until the late 1930s. Black-and-white photographs as well as artifacts that document these difficult times are featured in the Brigham City Museum of Art and History’s exhibit “Between the Wars: The Great Depression in Northern Utah.” The exhibit opens Oct. 17 and continues through Dec. 12. Admission is free. Images of the disastrous Willard flood in 1923 are also included in the exhibit.
The museum is located at 24 North 300 West. The entrance is on the west side. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 .m. and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. For further information, please phone (435) 226-1439 or visit www.brighamcitymuseum.org.
Some of the photos in the exhibit were taken by such distinguished professional photographers as Russell Lee. Lee, who was born in Ottawa, Illinois, earned a degree in chemical engineering, but gave up a lucrative career as a chemist to become a photographer. He was hired for the federally sponsored Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographic documentation project of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. Lee was one of the photographers that captured on film the eviction of Japanese Americans from the West Coast.
Other photos in the exhibit were taken by amateur photographers that were members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) located in Northern Utah. The CCC was a public relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 for unemployed, unmarried men between the ages of 17 and 28 years. The CCC was a major part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal that provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments.
One of the projects a CCC crew undertook when they arrived in Northern Utah was terrace the landscape in Willard that had been altered during the flood.
Notable photos on view are “Mormon Women Tacking a Quilt for Sheepherder,” 1940; “Camp of Dry Farmer,” 1940; “American Legion Building Under Construction, Box Elder County,” 1936; “Woman Surveying Homegrown and Preserved Fruits and Vegetables”; “CCC Camp 952 at Bear River Bird Refuge,” 1935; and “Boar, FSA Cooperative,” 1940.