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Margaret Bourke-White

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 08, 2007

I came across this striking photo by Margaret Bourke-White the other day:

White Bread Line

It’s a photo of a bread line during the Louisville Flood in 1937. The 1937 flood was one of the worst floods ever to occur in the Ohio River Valley:

In January of 1937, rains began to fall throughout the Ohio River Valley, eventually triggering what is known today as the “Great Flood of 1937”. Overall, total precipitation for January was four times its normal amount in the areas surrounding the river. […] The Weather Bureau reported that total flood damage for the entire state of Kentucky was 250 million dollars, which was an incredible sum in 1937. Another flood of this magnitude would not be seen in the Ohio River Valley until 60 years later.

A diary from Mama Bondurant provides a glimpse into what the flood was like:

January 22—-This is another terrible day. The water is still rising and we hear distress cries everywhere. I have tired all day to get West Point, but it is still under water. Jim came home for a little while but went back to Camp Knox to assist in placing flood sufferers from West Point. It is so bad outside. Rain has turned to sleet. Electricity is gone. No lights or radio.

Working as a photographer for Life magazine, Bourke-White also took this iconic photo of Gandhi and his spinning wheel.

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