Children gathering potatoes on a large farm, vicinity of Caribou, Aroostook County, Me. Schools do not open until the potatoes are harvested (LOC)

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When: 01 January 1939

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Delano, Jack,, photographer.

Children gathering potatoes on a large farm, vicinity of Caribou, Aroostook County, Me. Schools do not open until the potatoes are harvested

1940 Oct.

1 slide : color.

Title from FSA or OWI agency caption.
Transfer from U.S. Office of War Information, 1944.

Child labor
United States--Maine--Caribou
United States--Maine--Aroostook County

Format: Slides--Color

Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.

Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA,

Part Of: Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Collection 11671-4 (DLC) 93845501

General information about the FSA/OWI Color Photographs is available at

Higher resolution image is available (Persistent URL):

Call Number: LC-USF35-63


Owner: The Library of Congress
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 137840
libraryofcongress dc:identifier=httphdllocgovlocpnpfsac1a33844 xmlns:dc=httppurlorgdcelements11 potato maine harvest 1940 october boys potatoes children farm basket vegetable field food hatswithearflaps brown earth thecounty caribou aroostook largewoodendrums jackdelano rural bucolic spuds pommedeterre culture crop produce dirt tubers soil domestic sustenance rows barrels plaid hats colour work childlabor mainepotatos whitechildren niños papas agriculture cap redhat maroonhat unitedstates fsa owi gatherers brothers friends coldweather gloves farmers vintage slidefilm 4x5 largeformat lf transparency transparencies enfants pommesdeterre iconclass:n=42a571 iconclass:n=31d1272 iconclass:n=41c6515 iconclass:n=47i11284 farming iconclass:n=42g2221

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  • profile

    kevan can't!

    • 16/Jan/2008 23:31:51

    This totally puts my own family archives to shame. Awesome.

  • profile


    • 17/Jan/2008 00:16:17

    Not too much has changed in the county...

  • profile


    • 17/Jan/2008 00:33:27

    Man that poor kid on the right sure sure looks unhappy. Guess I can't blame him.

  • profile

    Finecrafted by Nori

    • 17/Jan/2008 04:51:45

    These pictures are wonderful!!! This is the first one I got to tag, and I found it oddly exciting. :)

  • profile


    • 17/Jan/2008 13:20:55

    This is how I made my first $14.00 some 60 years ago!

  • profile

    Judith Bursott

    • 17/Jan/2008 13:21:27


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    • 17/Jan/2008 14:26:20

    Addendum: As I recall, the schools do actually open a few weeks before picking season and close again for two weeks.

  • profile


    • 17/Jan/2008 15:50:41

    Them's was the days when chilrens worked fer a livin!

  • profile

    José X

    • 17/Jan/2008 16:48:15

    a great capture of life have a very good day

  • profile


    • 17/Jan/2008 17:11:35

    wow, taken 1940!!! -- Seen on your photo stream. (?)

  • profile

    Totoro's mom

    • 17/Jan/2008 19:47:51

    I grew up in Geneva Switzerland in the 1960's and we always had a week off in October: "Les Vacances de Patates" left over from the days when everyone had to take off school to pick potatoes. I just checked online and it looks like that's still being done! I only had one classmate who had to go pick potatoes at his grandmother's farm during my entire school years, the rest of us just enjoyed our break. This brought back memories!

  • profile


    • 17/Jan/2008 20:33:18

    Wow, absolutely vivid photographs!

  • profile


    • 17/Jan/2008 21:00:34

    Amazing photo - I picked potatoes as a high school freshman in Madawaska Maine in 1975. School started in Madawaska in mid-August and then adjourned for two weeks in September for the potato harvest. All the kids picked and made some extra money. It is hard work but not onerous; the tractor goes along the rows and turns over the potato plants, exposing the potatoes, and the pickers come behind with their baskets and gather the potatoes. Great photos to have available!

  • profile

    Olinad Rellse

    • 18/Jan/2008 14:44:20

    this 'human interest' is really 'awesome' during the world war ll eras, you can survive eating potatoes in the whole year, wthout rice. potato a native of pacific slopes of s. america, in 16th c., with roundish or oval starch containing tubers used for food. batata or sweet potato, is widely known in the philippine island, brought to table and used for food. biggest plantation of potato in the philippines is in northern luzon.

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    lethal trip

    • 18/Jan/2008 14:47:44

    I grew up in southern Minnesota in the 50s. I was probably 5-6 yrs. old. In the fall after the potato fields had been harvested, they allowed people to come in and collect the potatoes that the machines had missed. I can still remember the cold cloudy day, playing with my brothers in the furrows of the field, throwing clods of dirt at each other, instead of picking up potatoes, and getting yelled at by my Mom.

  • profile

    successful plot

    • 18/Jan/2008 19:37:18

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Social Documentary Photography & events, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.

  • profile


    • 19/Jan/2008 02:33:28

    Now I love the past even more!! It had colors!!

  • profile


    • 19/Jan/2008 16:08:45

    yeah, they still close schools up there for harvest...but it probably wont last much longer what with immigrant labor, factory farms, and the dwindling of the family potato enterprise in maine.

  • profile


    • 21/Jan/2008 20:24:02

    the emotion in this photo is beautiful.. the color emotion with the antique lomo flavor matches the subjects.

  • profile


    • 21/Jan/2008 21:54:47

    Yeah, not much has changed.... I graduated from Presque Isle in '97 and remember those days all too well. Sun up to sun down for a buck a barrel; don't think I ever cracked more than $16 in a day. It was good inspiration to find some inside work.

  • profile


    • 22/Jan/2008 00:31:34

    The most gorgeous interiors and beautiful building in Washington. Love your site and great to see you here. This is the best use of the internet! Thank you LOC for doing this.

  • profile


    • 23/Jan/2008 04:45:50

    my father grew up in Aroostoock County during that era and has a tremendous slide collection.

  • profile


    • 23/Jan/2008 10:06:36

    Fantastic ! Nice picture 1

  • profile

    Deb Ebbeling

    • 23/Jan/2008 14:16:01

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Maine Photography, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group. This photo is true, even today. Kids are excused to plant and harvest ~ it's amazing. When I was a kid growing up, Dad would plant potatoes and it was so much fun harvesting them - trying to see who got the biggest spud, or who hit the mother load....It brings back good memories :) Thank you...

  • profile

    JTD Images

    • 23/Jan/2008 14:29:32

    "nobleaj8 says: Not too much has changed in the county..." Ha! I love living in Maine...

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    Sandra Djurbuzovic

    • 24/Jan/2008 01:23:46

    it's great to see natural, non cloned, health food!

  • profile

    Shelly Tee

    • 25/Jan/2008 05:15:36

    many northern maine schools open up in mid-august; and most still let their students out for harvest, although these days the vacation doesn't last as long for some schools. some let students out for one week, others for two, and a few for three (from mid-september till the day after columbus day is observed).

  • profile


    • 26/Jan/2008 02:18:49

    This is really special to see. I can't wait to see what pictures show up here. Welcome to flickr Library of Congress.

  • profile


    • 26/Jan/2008 07:56:12

    a time when everyone worked. honest work was not looked down upon-and you could live on the honest work you did. today honest work means you live in a slum.

  • profile


    • 29/Jan/2008 19:52:53

    remarkable photograph! great color and detail... I remember picking beans for a while as a teenager, it gave me something to do to earn some spending money for clothes and such... we never had too much. this project is wonderful!

  • profile


    • 30/Jan/2008 11:38:08

    Ahh yes a Presque Isle graduate of 2003 and it was still the same when I was there just with machines mostly now. Every fall everyone gets 3 weeks off school just for harvest.

  • profile

    David G Photography

    • 30/Jan/2008 22:26:44

    This is why farm families had many kids, to help on the farm. Sometime in the last 50 years kids went from being sources of labor to sources of work. Now days, parents are excited to see their kids go back to school so they can focus again on work...

  • profile

    Elizabeth 58

    • 02/Feb/2008 13:32:10

    I feel so fortunate to have been born and raised in the potato fields of Caribou, Maine. What a wonderful opportunity to learn a good work ethic and earn money for clothes for school. We were never cold and were well dressed at the same time. My dad was the digger and the overseer of the whole operation...he would have to get off of the bus to life some of the children into the bus. Sometimes he would let the men run over a barrel to build a fire to warm up our toes and fingers while waiting for the hard frost to melt on the ground so that he could dig and we could pick!! Betty Bubar Collins

  • profile


    • 02/Feb/2008 14:46:53

    My heart potatoes :[email protected]/

  • profile


    • 03/Feb/2008 22:45:26

    I REMBER "Erdäpfelklauben" DURING THE II. WAR.

  • profile

    Debbie C.B.'s

    • 13/Feb/2008 16:58:41

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Potatoes!, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.

  • profile


    • 14/Feb/2008 15:57:17

    Wonderful picture!!!!

  • profile


    • 16/Feb/2008 04:10:48

    Great picture - would the opening of school make the kids work harder or slow down?

  • profile


    • 05/Mar/2008 14:59:42

    biographical info on the photographer Museum of Contemporary Photography quote In addition to photography, Delano composed music. He died in Puerto Rico in 1997. Jack Delano was born Jack Ovcharov in Kiev, Ukraine on August 1, 1914. ...

  • profile

    Muddy LaBoue

    • 08/Mar/2008 18:22:17

    Wonderful! When I was growing up in North Carolina in the late 1960's and early 1970's, we always started school late because we had to wait for the tobacco harvest to be finished. After getting my start as a tractor driver who had to jump off the tractor to let someone else turn it at the ends of the rows, I worked on a tobacco harvester during my summers from age 11 to 16.

  • profile


    • 08/Mar/2008 22:08:09

    I live in Caribou, ME and this was so weird to see! And yes, they still have the potato harvest school break!

  • profile


    • 28/May/2008 16:39:32

    Yes these 1914 hats are really back in style in 2008, I guess its sort of 'Retro' lol.

  • profile


    • 20/Jul/2008 18:54:01

    1940 wow, there you can see what 68 years can change.

  • profile


    • 15/Sep/2008 22:36:58

    I've lived in coastal Maine for nine years, and rarely go's startling to see the differences.

  • profile


    • 29/Dec/2008 19:47:38

    Wow! ..unique shot! (and message :`)

    Please add a 'medium sized version' of your wonderful picture t o our 2 0 0 8 Campaign! Reach For A Star Campaign 2008
    -- Seen by a Catchy Colors (blog) / FlickrSoup (blog) / CHILDREN'S PORTRAITS (blog) / Forsaken By Society (blog #1 , blog#2) / Everyone A Changemaker (blog) / Jewelry, Ornaments & Textiles (blog) admin.

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    agreeable bee

    • 07/Jan/2009 15:18:50

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called The frugal kitchen (photo's & recipes), and we'd love to have this added to the group!

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    Made In Turkey

    • 03/Mar/2009 10:00:04

    expressive foto . beautiful

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    productive side

    • 26/Mar/2009 12:53:36

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called soulful group, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

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    productive side

    • 26/Mar/2009 12:53:49

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called a new world, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

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    productive side

    • 26/Mar/2009 12:53:59

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called The Natural Beauty of Children, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

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    • 27/May/2009 16:38:54

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Economic Botany, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

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    Jkadavoor (Jee)

    • 05/Nov/2009 07:30:14

    Beautiful. Hi, I'm an admin for a group called People love their Work, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

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    Arian Pedrosa

    • 09/Nov/2009 18:25:22


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    • 10/Nov/2009 16:29:17

    Neat to see the heritage. Grew up on a Maine potato farm, picked from age of 5 on. Fewer farmers and more large operations makes me dream of more smaller farmers with locally grown food is my hope. Maine potato picking video

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    gamy quilt

    • 25/Mar/2010 19:41:13


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    Bobinson K B

    • 04/May/2010 20:09:24


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    (deaf mute)

    • 28/Jul/2010 22:22:33

    Amazing. -- Found in a search. (?)

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    Janey Kay

    • 28/May/2011 20:20:03

    This selection is great to see! -- Seen on your photo stream. (?)

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    last page

    • 26/Oct/2011 12:47:07

    Sweet Hard Working Boys. In those Days Gone By, most Children on Farms worked hard. Not only to pick up the Potatoes, but they had the job of hauling them to the Cold Cellar. This Photo is Great Tribute to the Boys, from way back then.

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    last page

    • 30/Nov/2011 03:30:30

    Yes, the Sweet Boy is crying. It was lots of work and getting colder. They are very Young and were made to pick up the Potatoes. It was not easy. Poor Little Fella's.