Victory gardens

I have been looking at vintage garden photos from the online catalog of the Library of Congress. These two — of 1943 victory gardens in northwest and southeast Washington, D.C. — are really charming.

This couple is heading home from their plot with their sailor whites still looking clean and sharp.

“Washington, D.C. Victory garden in the Northwest section,” 1943, by Louise Rosskam. Via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (all photos here).

Below, Mrs. Carr seems to be present for moral support only, or perhaps she will take the next shift with the shovel.

“Washington, D.C. Leslie Edward Carr of the British Purchasing Commission with his wife at their victory garden on Fairlawn Ave., Southeast,” June 1943, by Joseph A. Horne. 

Louise Rosskam, who took the first photo above, was “one of the elusive pioneers of what has been called the golden age of documentary photography.” She took a number of pictures of the same group of northwest D.C. victory gardens in the spring of 1943. (Click on any of the photos to enlarge.)

I believe this is the couple in the first photo above.
Apartment buildings in the background.
Another couple working. I love her high-waisted, wide-leg white pants.
This lady also looks great in black gloves and snood and sunglasses.
The individual plots were outlined with field rocks.
Another gardener heading home by the same fence opening.
Buying victory garden supplies.

All the photos above (except that of the Carrs) are by Louise Rosskam, via the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

I believe these garden plots were in the neighborhood of Glover Park, where we have a house. According to the Glover Park Citizens Association, it established the first World War II victory garden in the city, at 42nd and Tunlaw Road. It still exists today as a community garden. (Alternatively, they may be of the Tilden victory gardens at Connecticut Avenue and Tilden Street, which Rosskam also photographed.)

This is a link to a short film made in the forties about how to prepare, plant, and harvest a 1/4 acre victory garden. It features a rural northern Maryland family and is an interesting look at home gardening advice and practices of the time.

15 thoughts on “Victory gardens

  1. Hello there. I’m an avid gardener myself and I love old photos so this post was a twofer. Good stuff. But I was wondering if you could help me by letting me know how you obtained these prints from the LoC? Did you have to apply for digital copies or were you able to take them directly from the Website? Thanks!

  2. I loved these! I have a plot in Boston’s Fenway Victory Gardens – the longest-running victory gardens in the states. I love it dearly and am always pleased to think of my place in a succession of devoted gardeners. I am grateful to have some photos to pair with my musings!

    1. Thanks! I think the Library of Congress would have some Fenway Park photos too. (I like your blog. One of my daughters went to Northeastern, and we enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Boston.)

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