After his election in 1932, President Franklin D. Roosevelt used his New Deal programs to bring national attention to the plight of American workers. Photographers like Walker Evans and Marion Post Wolcott traveled across the country to document conditions and the impact of government relief efforts among the rural poor. The project that resulted in thousands of poignant images that often played on people’s sympathies by showing individuals in trouble, but not in such dire circumstances that any aid provided would not assuage their lives.

This image depicts two children, the smaller one compromised by a physical disorder caused by a lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate that leads to softening and weakening of the bones. Wolcott’s photograph seems to suggest that the afflicted children are besieged by their circumstances, health wise, physically and environmentally.