A Look Back at Burgers



The end of the year—always a time for reflection. So we thought we'd dig in to the archives of Serious Eats site A Hamburger Today and bring you some images worth highlighting again. They're from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog and offer a look at the early days of the hamburger.

Most of the photos here were taken by Russell Lee (right; 1903–1986), who was invited to join the federally funded Farm Security Administration as part of a team of photographers charged with documenting the plight of the rural poor during the Depression. (Esther Bubley, Jack Delano, and Arthur Rothstein, whose photos are also represented below, were members of the project as well.)

These photos are truly a fascinating scrapbook of hamburger—and American—history, and they're available for reproduction online at the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Reading Room (search the catalog for "hamburger"). Dig in!


Making hamburgers in concession stand, National Rice Festival, Crowley, Louisiana; October 1938; Russell Lee


Interior of hamburger stand. Waiting for customer, Alpine, Texas; May 1939; Russell Lee


Booth in hamburger stand, Alpine, Texas; May 1939; Russell Lee


Man in hamburger stand, Alpine, Texas; May 1939; Russell Lee


Little boy buying hamburger, state fair, Donaldsonville, Louisiana; November 1938; Russell Lee


Hamburger stand with old brands, Dumas, Texas; September 1939; Russell Lee


A hamburger shop in Durham, North Carolina; May 1940; Jack Delano


Hamburger stand and back of buildings on main street, Eufaula, Oklahoma; February 1940; Russell Lee


Hamburger stand, Harlingen, Texas; February 1939; Russell Lee


Hamburger stand. Imperial County Fair, California; March 1942; Russell Lee


Hamburger stand. Imperial County Fair, California; March 1942; Russell Lee


Blue Island, Illinois. After a movie, the Senise family drops in at a lunch counter for hamburgers; February 1943; Jack Delano


Washington, D.C. Walter Spangenberg and his date at the Hot Shoppe after the Woodrow Wilson High School regimental ball. She ordered a hamburger and milk, while he got a hamburger and a Coke; October 1943; Esther Bubley


At the hamburger stand on the Fourth of July, Vale, Oregon; July 1941; Russell Lee


White Tavern hamburger stand was the popular place in Amsterdam, New York; October 1941; John Collier


White Tavern hamburger stand was the popular place in Amsterdam, New York; October 1941; John Collier


Woodville, California. FSA (Farm Security Administration) farm workers' community. Migrant agricultural workers eating hamburgers at the Saturday night dance; January 1942; Russell Lee


Woodville, California. FSA (Farm Security Administration) farm workers' community. The women's club sells hamburgers at the Saturday night dances; January 1942; Russell Lee

20060517LOCBurger.jpg
Farmer eats hamburger at cornhusking contest, Marshall County, Iowa; November 1939; Arthur Rothstein

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