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Toward a Better Living: African American Farming Communities in Mid-Century Texas

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Historical photographs from the Texas Agricultural Extension Service

In the early 1970s, the Texas A&M University archives acquired a large collection of photographs from the Agricultural Communications Office of the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. This collection consists of nearly 7000 photographs. The vast majority are black and white images ranging from the 1930s through the late 1970s, although some photographs date from earlier and later periods. These images were captured by photographers working throughout the state, and document many activities aimed at improving the lives and livelihood of rural Texans. Farming, home improvement, livestock raising, and other programs of the Extension Service were illustrated and the photographs were retained for educational and publicity initiatives.

The original photographs were usually mounted on card stock, often with additional prints and negatives. Several pieces of information were written or typed on the card, including file number, negative number, a title, and, if known, such information as the county, date, and photographer. Many photographs also include descriptive captions. As much as possible, the original order in which the photographs came to the archives was retained.

*This exhibition pays homage to a traveling photographic exhibit, Toward a Better Living for Rural Texas Blacks, 1930-1960, created by Charles Schultz.

This selection of photographs was drawn from the collections at Cushing Memorial Library & Archives. Other digital collections are available.

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