Many of the refugees featured in these photos would now be called “internally displaced people.” For example, the flood “refugees” of the Great Depression in the United States. We might also call some of them “homeless” or even, “enemy combatants.” These photos are from the Library of Congress’ vast collection of photographs. They span from U.S. / Indian relations in the 1800’s to the displaced of World War II.
The captions are original, so they reflect the thinking of the photographer at the time. The above photo is by Arthur Rothstein, the caption reads, “Drought refugees from North Dakota, 1936.” Photos like these were commissioned by the U.S. Government. Others in the slideshow below were taken by missionaries or travelers.
1862. People escaping from the Indian massacre of 1862 in Minnesota, at dinner on a prairie. (Adrian John Ebell, Library of Congress)
1898. A group of Santiago refugees near El Caney, Cuba. (William Dinwiddie, Library of Congress)
ca. 1912. [Crowd of refugees(?)–, possibly Jewish, and three officials outdoors, Russia] (Library of Congress)
1923, Greek and Armenian refugee children in barracks near Athens–Greece received 1,000,000 refugees or one to each family of the country. (Library of Congress)
ca. 1926. Druse [i.e., Druze] political refugees from Jebel Druse (The Hauran). Druse refugees, Wady Sirhan. Chiefs who revolted against French rule in Syria. (Library of Congress)
1937. Flood refugees lined up and waiting for food at Marianna, Arkansas, refugee camp. (Edwin Locke, Library of Congress)
1937. Refugees lined up at meal time in the camp for white flood refugees in Forest City, Arkansas. (Walker Evans, Library of Congress)
1937. Drought refugee living in a ditch bank camp. Imperial County, California. (Dorothea Lange, Library of Congress)
1942. New York, New York. Children’s Colony, a school for refugee children administered by a Viennese. German refugee boy repairing a model of the SS Normandie which he made. (Marjory Collins, Library of Congress)
1942. New York, New York. Children’s Colony, a school for refugee children administered by a Viennese. British and German refugee children working side by side. (Marjory Collins, Library of Congress)
1944. Refugees at El Shatt, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration’s refugee camp for Yugoslavs. (Library of Congress)