Takin’ it to the streets: Depression-era protesters in Seattle, 1937. A recession, in the midst of the Great Depression, began in August 1937. The event pictured in the “then” photo is prelude to the August recession.

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THE OLD Seattle Chamber of Commerce building, its name signed with the luster of gold-leaf lettering on each of the heavy glass doors, is both physically and politically to the right of this cadre of about a dozen demonstrators marching east on Columbia Street up toward Third Avenue in the “then” photo. Seven of the patrol are wrapped in professionally produced signs that resonate with Depression-era concerns and commands.

The shot is one of the great hoard of Seattle Post-Intelligencer photos that are protected by the white-gloved hands of Museum of History & Industry archivists. MOHAI photographer Howard Giske says, “It has a file date of July 15, 1937, on the old P-I negative sleeve . . . good enough for me!” Alas, even with the help of skilled librarians in our Central Library, we did not find it in the paper itself.

For a better understanding of the subject, we recommend retired University of Washington archivist Richard Berner’s book “Seattle 1921-1940: From Boom to Bust.” Berner notes that a recession, in the midst of the Great Depression, began in August 1937 when “cutbacks in federal work relief funds coincided with unemployment levels that approached those of 1932-1933.” The event pictured in the “then” photo, snapped in July, is prelude to the August recession.

The “red-baiting” that we usually associate with the Cold War was also commonplace during the Depression. And here, far right, it seems to be the case. We might have a “commie” in the picture! Held like an umpire’s chest protector, a “newsboy” blandishes a copy of The Daily Worker, the Communist Party’s publication. Unfortunately, the focus is too soft to read the front page.

Might it be that this confrontation of the two dailies, the P-I photographing the man displaying The Daily Worker, was reason enough for the former not to print this negative? It is more likely the bigger daily was distracted by the great mass of its own daily news. Or that we have simply missed it.