The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was formed in 1935, as a part of the New Deal efforts to lift the U.S. out of the Great Depression. The FSA’s primary mission was to improve the lives of poor farmers and sharecroppers. Though the FSA lived under different guises until 2006, the agency is best known for the photographers it dispatched throughout the country. The iconic Migrant Mother portrait of destitute pea-pickers? It was captured by Dorothea Lange for the FSA.

The photos that follow were taken between 1937 and 1939, when the U.S. fell back into recession after an initial recovery faltered. Taken in rural bars and saloons, the photos reveal what was likely a brief respite from daily life in struggling farms, forests and mines. The captions accompanying each photo are the original descriptions from the Library of Congress.

Dudes harmonizing in back room of beer parlor
Birney, Montana – June 1939

Dudes harmonizing in back room of beer parlor

Cowboys in beer parlor
Alpine, Texas – May 1939

Cowboys in beer parlor

Playing game of “horses” with dice-shaking for the drinks
Pilottown, Louisiana – September 1938

Playing game of "horses" with dice-shaking for the drinks

Beer parlor
Birney, Montana – June 1939

Beer parlor

Saturday night in a saloon
Craigville, Minnesota – September 1937

Saturday night in a saloon

Farmer and ex-cowboy drinking beer
North Platte, Nebraska – October 1938

Farmer and ex-cowboy drinking beer

Men in saloon. A lumbering “frontier” town
Craigville, Minnesota – August 1937

Men in saloon. A lumbering "frontier" town

A drink on the house. Lumberjacks, proprietor and lady attendant in saloon
Craigville, Minnesota – August 1937

A drink on the house. Lumberjacks, proprietor and lady attendant in saloon

Lumberjacks in beer parlor
Craigville, Minnesota – August 1937

Lumberjacks in beer parlor

Drinking at the bar
Raceland, Louisiana – October 1938

Drinking at the bar

Cowboy drinking a bottle of beer in booth of beer parlor
Alpine, Texas – May 1939

Cowboy drinking a bottle of beer in booth of beer parlor

Native of Olga, Louisiana drinking at the bar. Note the branch of tree used as a mosquito switch
Olga, Louisiana – September 1938

Native of Olga, Louisiana drinking at the bar. Note the branch of tree used as a mosquito switch

Cowboy drinking beer in beer parlor
Alpine, Texas – May 1939

Cowboy drinking beer in beer parlor

Some men having beer at Filipek’s bar
Shenandoah, Pennsylvania – October 1938

Some men having beer at Filipek's bar

Two miners in Filipek’s bar having an argument
Shenandoah, Pennsylvania – October 1938

Two miners in Filipek's bar having an argument

Man and girl at the bar
North Platte, Nebraska – October 1938

Man and girl at the bar

Wonder Bar, hot spot of Circleville, Ohio
Circleville, Ohio – 1938

Wonder Bar, hot spot of Circleville, Ohio

Miners and farmers in Oke-Doke dance hall
Williamson, Illinois – January 1939

Miners and farmers in Oke-Doke dance hall

Saturday afternoon in a Negro beer and juke joint
Clarksdale, Mississippi – November 1939

Saturday afternoon in a Negro beer and juke joint

Men at a bar
Gilberton, Pennsylvania – 1938

Men at a bar

People in advanced stage of inebriation in saloon during National Rice Festival
Crowley, Louisiana – October 1938

People in advanced stage of inebriation in saloon during National Rice Festival

Drinking at the bar
Pilottown, Louisiana – September 1938

Drinking at the bar

All photographs from the Library of Congress via Yale Photogrammar.