There is no better way to celebrate Black History Month than with historic photographs from an era long-gone ... and Beyoncé.

The photos are publicly available for the first time thanks to the recently digitized collection from the Farm Security Administration, which captured America on film from the mid-1930s to 1942. Along with other agencies' photos, the collection totals more than 170,000 pictures

The images below offer a rare glimpse into the lives of African-American workers and families. Many were employed as sharecroppers or tenant farmers, but landowners often kept these farmers in their debt, leaving many hardworking families poverty-stricken. Conditions worsened with the Great Depression, as African-American workers were hit especially hard. By 1932, nearly half were out of work. It was a bleak period in history, but it laid the groundwork for many of the labor movements and civil rights protests to come. 

Keep Reading Show less