Children of the family Raaymakers, hit by the crisis, getting help thanks to an action of magazine Het Leven. Best, The Netherlands, 1936.

The National Archive in The Netherlands just published a 30 image set on the theme of poverty.

The strength of some of the images blew me away. (Click any image for a larger view) The set spans nationals and eras so this isn’t a photo essay, just a moment to reflect. Through history, photography has indulged the upper classes, but how has it treated the impoverished? I don’t have the answers, just a meandering of a visual train of thought.

Children with scars and with gazes that cut through time …

Irish tinkers: mother and child in front of improvised tent, 1946

… and children slowly erased by time.

Poor German miners’ families eating at a soup kitchen, 1931

Jobs programs that have adults digging dirt like children digging beach sand …

Unemployment relief program in Schagen, Netherlands, 1967

… then, poor people who have carted each other across cobbles …

Woman transported on a hand-cart, Amsterdam, 1934

… and those that sleep beneath them.

French man spending a night under a bridge, catches a glimpse of photographer Willem van de Poll, date unknown.

Men have begged for the charity of the richest …

Man begs for money from George V (1865-1936), Epsom Downs, Derby Day, 1920.

…but usually received from the humblest.

Soup kitchen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1917

Poor people have been asked to rent dentures …

Man bites down on available dentures for hire, United States, 1940.

… and they have been made into leaders …

Dutch tramp who became a politician, Amsterdam, 1921

… and in so much as the poor man is the worker, they’ve seen it all.

Worker sweeps the floor in the New York Stock Exchange following the Wall Street Crash, 1929.

More images can be seen within the Collectie Spaarnestad: