West Virginia was one of the worst states to be hit be the Great Depression from 1929 to 1941. National unemployment peaked in 1933 at almost 25 percent.
The unemployment rate in West Virginia exceeded 80 percent in some counties.
And if you think that would make life hard in the Mountain State, you’d be very right. A near total collapse of the mining industry during the first years of the Great Depression was the primary culprit of most West Virginian’s sufferings. It’s important to remember that this wasn’t that long ago—and the photos below are of the lives and realaties of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.
Most of these photos come from a series commissioned by the Farm Security Administration Project, all of which are viewable at the Library of Congress website. There are over 2,600 images in the collection from West Virginia.