Suffering During the Depression

Suffering During the Depression
How did urban and rural people get by in
the Great Depression?
Shantytowns and “Hoovervilles”
•Financial collapse causes people to lose their homes
•People wind up on the streets and made makeshift shelters out of
what they could find
“Homeless” towns begin sprouting up in many cities
Soup Kitchens & Bread Lines
•To eat, people dug through garbage cans. Charities started
setting up soup kitchens & bread lines to feed people
Struggles for African Americans and Latinos
• Unemployment rates up & wages are down, Af-Am
unemployment is double that of Euro-Ams
• More competition for jobs, even traditionally low paying ones
• 1933: Greatest number of lynchings since Reconstruction
• Many Americans demand that Hispanics be deported,
hundreds of thousands relocate to Mexico.
Depression in Rural America & The Dust Bowl
•In addition to financial problems, a natural catastrophe hits the
“Migrant Mother”, by Dorothea Lange
• Because native plants were removed and the land was
overused, top soil blew away.
• Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado become
the “Dust Bowl”.
• Families unable to pay back debt. to banks, 400k farms
foreclosed upon (1929-1932)
• Hundreds of thousands of families forced to migrate West along
Route 66 (many to California). –Steinbeck’s, “Grapes of Wrath”
• Migrants collectively known as “Okies” (derogatory) were
discriminated against in jobs, housing, etc
•As many as 300,000 “hoboes” (transients) wandered the country
“…the riders of freight
trains, the thumbers of
rides on highways, the
uprooted, unwanted
male population of
-Thomas Wolfe,
What is ironic about this picture?
American Family: Effects on Men
•Some men became so discouraged they abandoned their families
“Men who have been sturdy
and self-respecting workers
can take unemployment
without flinching for a few
weeks, a few months, even if
they have to see their families
suffer; but it is different after
a year…two years…three
years.”-Frederick Lewis Allen
American Family: Women Struggle to Survive
•Women tried to stretch food as far as possible, tried to find work
outside of the home but couldn’t be hired if a man needed work
Others were too ashamed to
face reality:
“I’ve lived in cities for many
months, broke, without help,
too timid to get in bread lines.
I’ve known many women to
live like this until they simply
faint in the street.”
– Meridel Le Seuer
American Family: Children of the Great Depression
-Poor diets and lack of health
care = malnutrition & disease
-Many schools are closed =
uneducated future population
-Many teens jump freight trains to
“travel the country” = rampant crime
by teens & against teens
Social and Psychological Effects
-From 1928-1932, suicide rate rose more than 30%
-3X as many people were admitted to state mental hospitals
-Achieving financial stability became the main goal in life
“Ever since I was 12 years old there was
one major goal in my life…and that was to never
be poor again.” - anonymous