The Fourth of July in South Carolina, 1939

Marion Post Wolcott, Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has a series of photographs of an African American Fourth of July celebration on St. Helena Island off of South Carolina in 1939.  They were taken by Marian Post Wolcott, a photographer working for the Farm Security Administration.  This is most likely one of them, although it doesn’t have a detailed caption.  Some are in color, rare for the time.  You can see them all, and more, by searching “Wolcott Fourth of July” at the Library of Congress picture website.

I love this photo because it illustrates not only a picnic but also an art show of sorts.  Most moving is the image bottom right that commemorates African American soldiers in the First World War. I knew almost nothing about this chapter of American history.

Even in this sliver of daily life, we can learn a little about fashion styles.  The women who are working aren’t wearing hats, while many of those in the background eating or socializing have on some kind of head covering.  Skirt lengths differ, and I would hazard a guess that the younger the woman, the shorter the skirt.  Fashion was changing in 1939, and the young were changing with it. 

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1 Response to The Fourth of July in South Carolina, 1939

  1. JS says:

    Thank you. I’m African American and I’ve never seen these kinds of images.

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