American History and Poverty: Fighting The Great Depression

Farm foreclosure sale in 1933
Farm foreclosure sale in 1933 | Source
A squatters' camp of transients in Texas in February 1935 during The Great Depression.
A squatters' camp of transients in Texas in February 1935 during The Great Depression. | Source

The Great Depression, Socioeconomic & Psychological: 1929 -'41

The life of a transient worker, whether man, woman, or child in the 1930s, was the most difficult existence for the lowest caste of American society.

Transient workers of the period included former professionals from all industry sectors and people of all races displaced by the economic downturn. The caste included white-collar and blue-collar workers, farmers, and the wives and childrenof men that died or were long-gone on the road of transient work. They walked across the nation, looking for a livelihood, without the benefit of electricity, running water, clean clothing, adequate food, heathcare, shelter, or safety. They were scorned, kicked, belittled, starved to death, ridden out of town on a rail, shot, arrested falsely, lynched and hated by everyone around them in some places.

After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, this caste of lost souls existed until the Industrial Sector of World War II stimulated the economy from 1941 forward. Newsman Tom Brokaw authored. The Greatest Generation, an effective reference full of personal testimony from individuals that lived through the Great Depression and World War II. Errol Lincoln Uys wrote Riding the Rails to illustrate the plight of younger teenagers living on freight trains for years during the Great Depression, working where they could. The youngest workers to ride the rails or walk the roads in the 1930s were probably 13 or 14 years old; in 2010 they would be over 90. If you have the chance, speak to some about the Great Depression and hear their stories.

We are not so far from all this in 2010 - a teen girl featured in news stories a few years ago lived on the NYC Subway after her parents died when she was 13. No one knew she needed help until she showed up for a college interview in slightly wrinkled clothing. Questions were asked and she received a scholarship.

By 1932, 12,000,000 were out of work in the US and about 25% of all families had no income.

Hundreds of thousands of people were evicted from apartments and houses in large cities and elewhere in many states. Farmers lost land, crops, equipment, and homes, especially in the Dust Bowl of the early 1930s. Racial differences existed:

  • African-American male Unemployment was 66% during this time;
  • Women as a whole often could not maintain employment, because women were laid off first, with the thought that men would support them. It didn't happen.

BEAUTIFUL OHIO

Ohio suffered worse than many other states. In 1932, Ohio's Unemployment was 37+%. Many city dwellers went to the few Poor Houses or moved to rural areas to grow their own food. Some ended up wandering from farm to farm, becoming migrant workers. Families split up and worked on different farms, reminiscent of the Antebellum South.

By 1933, over 40% of factory and 67% of construction workers were out of work, Cleveland and Toledo being hardest hit. Columbus, Ohio had only one Poorhouse, located on Grandview Avenue. It was a place that a limited number of people could go and raise food in the large garden and help around the house and grounds for a temporary livelihood. It was not enough. Not until the mid-1930s did labor camps that paid wages as well as to furnish meals and shelter become widespread in Ohio.

I have heard some say that the Great Depression created rugged individuals that accepted responsibility to make something of themselves despite circumstances. Inreality, obstacles and inhumane circumstances are two different genres of hardship. The Depression, in fact, caused mental disorders such as depression, physical illness, crime, intolerance, humiliation, and death. These affected transient workers as a group and the families that some left behind. These factors scourged segments of future generations to the end of the century as well, as a result of some survivors' maladaptive behaviors and skewed worldviews inflicted upon next generations.

Pundits today point out that the younger adults surviving the Recession of 2008 - 2009 will be permanently affected by the experience and will likely be spending less, economizing, putting off having children, and making similar choices for the rest of their lives. They would seem to be destined for constricted lives.

Library of Congress/public domain video: California: 1935 - 1945

Soup Kitchens

Montreal, 1931.
Montreal, 1931. | Source

Mistaken Identity

Before the Dust Bowl (early 1930s) brought attention to migratory workers in the South and their economic and social problems in America, about 2,000,000 homeless, unemployed Americans wandered coast to coast in search of work. This number increased significantly over the decade. These folks were considered low-class in every way when, in fact, many were from the formerly wealthy Northeast USA, and not the poorer sections of the South described succinctly in novels such as the classic Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

Other people assumed that these Unemployed were robbers, tramps, or poor migratory laborers. They were not, by and large. They were educated men and women, sometimes traveling with their children - once middle-class families that had lost their homes. They were treated poorly overall, finding it even more difficult to find work, because they were homeless and mistaken for bums and thieves. They were run off, sometimes shot, sometimes dying of disease, starvation, and the cold (an analogy might be a decade of constant Hurricane Katrinas and Ikes).

To the next camp...

Men board a freight train, including the roof, in order to find another work camp.
Men board a freight train, including the roof, in order to find another work camp. | Source

The Hard Knock Life

Photos coming out of Canada during the Great Depression show some of the most profound effects of the economic downturn on men in North America.

When "welfare": was not available, men could live and work in work camps, set up to minimally house men to work at improving the infrastructure of Canada and USA. However, the men were not paid - at least not in British Columbia and other parts of Canada, perhaps not in America either.

Transient workers in labor camps in the early 1930s often received simple meals and shelter in return for hard physical work. When work ran out, they hopped a freight train in dangerous accommodations and traveled to the next work project site.

Teenagers Living on Freight Trains

Transient Camps

Men living in a Transient Camp in Michigan during in 1937 (public domain).
Men living in a Transient Camp in Michigan during in 1937 (public domain).

The Greatest Generation and The Great Depression

Federal Transient Program

The Federal Transient Program operated from 1933 - 1935, targeting the interstate transient worker phenomenon during these years of the Great Depression.

The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) was enacted in May, 1933 to:

  1. Provide adequate relief measures;
  2. Provide work for employable people on the Relief
  3. Diversify Relief programs.

One major problem, however, is that people in general disliked the wandering Unemployed so much, that few US States applied for FERA fund to help them early one. This, more wandering and antagonism occurred. White-collar workers wandered, blue-collar workers had been wandering, teachers were out of work - it was monstrous.

Preapration for WWII

Toward the middle 1930s forward to 1941, the WPA, or Works Progress Administration workers' camps achieved greater success than FERA, as did the CCC, or Civilian Conservation Corps. Additional training programs for the Unemployed were instituted for former white-collar and industrial workers that to skills that carried into WWII efforts. Even "pink collar" training was provided in the form of typing and related classes for men and wiomen. Training and the war helped to spur economic recovery.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Men in British Columbia, CA working on a highway and living in a labor camp. They were not paid.Unemplopyed men sleeping in a bandstand in Toronto, Ontario CA.People wating for Relief checks in America.
Men in British Columbia, CA working on a highway and living in a labor camp. They were not paid.
Men in British Columbia, CA working on a highway and living in a labor camp. They were not paid. | Source
Unemplopyed men sleeping in a bandstand in Toronto, Ontario CA.
Unemplopyed men sleeping in a bandstand in Toronto, Ontario CA.
People wating for Relief checks in America.
People wating for Relief checks in America.

Theme Song

This is a kind of theme song sung in the Shafter Farm Security Administration (FSA) government labor camp in 1940-41. The CIO, Congress of Industrial Workers, was a labor union organized in 1935 to target the plight of the transient worker. Two of the verses are below and the entire song can be found at Library of Congress - Voices of the Dust Bowl.

I'd Rather Not Be on Relief

We go around all dressed in rags
While the rest of the world goes neat,
And we have to be satisfied
With half enough to eat.
We have to live in lean-tos,
Or else we live in a tent,
For when we buy our bread and beans
There's nothing left for rent

...

From the east and west and north and south
Like a swarm of bees we come;
The migratory workers
Are worse off than a bum.
We go to Mr. Farmer
And ask him what he'll pay;
He says, "You gypsy workers
Can live on a buck a day."

"Still Crazy After All These Years"

Two types of behavior have been highlighted as stemming from the effects of the Depression. One is hoarding behavior and the other is unkindly called a “welfare mentality” of accessing helping systems. A portion of the general public call the former "crazy" and the latter "dishonest" and “lazy.” Both labels are unfair to the transient workers attempting to stay alive in the 1930s.

Some transients started out with cars and lost them to breakdown along the way, while others began and ended on foot. Their journey was downhill in a number of aspects.

Many transients worked from farm to farm, seasonally, but American farms could not help everyone that needed work. Post Traumatic Stress was likely reinforced by daily trauma. Malnutrition was a certainty, and then people lost teeth and hair and broke bones. The lack of basic needs and increase in other stressors probably resulted in impaired concentration, confusion, memory problems, inability to make decisions, sleep impairment, loss of balance, shaking and trembling, irritability, and other neurological symptoms. Conflict was certain to erupt in fights from time to time along the roads and in tent camps.

Depression especially affects the homeless and certainly, some transients became affected by psychosis, as do some of our homeless persons today. Some committed suicide. Some contracted polio or tuberculosis, typhoid fever, dysentery, rheumatic fever, and a range of other diseases. Some were robbed for a few possessions, some killed, some raped, some beaten to death or lynched.Some finally died in work-related accidents when they did find jobs, because of the nature of the work or because they were continually exhausted.

Depression Era Resources: Books and Film

The Homeless Transient

Joan M. Crouse, author: The Homeless Transient in the Great Depression: New York State, 1929 - 1941. New Albany, State University Press of New York; 1986.

Kit Kitterage

In the film Kit Kitterage, a good example of Depression life is illustrated, with a positive spin that I hope occurred from time to time. Kit (actress Abigail Breslin) is only 10 in Cincinnati when her father loses his car dealership in the Depression and leaves to join transients looking for work. Kit and her mom sell garden vegetables, eggs, and such, take in boarders, and help people in nearby hobo camps Dad eventually returns and life resumes with the family members appreciating one another more. In the film, both a family whose father hit the road for transient work, and some thieves that became boarders at the family home were creative. Like the rest of America, some people made flour sack dresses and took in boarders, and some people robbed others during the Depression. Some were reduced to seeking handouts and standing in long bread and soup lines.

Men particularly often spent months or years on the road, working where they could until the work ran out. Eventually, some made it back, while others died. Even children went door to door looking for chores to do that could earn them a meal. Unfortunately, I see this occur today as well -- In my own county for instance, the number of children that receive public assistance or who are eligible but not collecting is pushing 40% in 2010.

Seabiscuit

The film Seabiscuit with Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges features another example of transient workers. The encouraging aspect is that the Maguire character, a former transient, and the horse won the Santa Anita Handicap in 1940 after both had recovered from serious leg injuries. Often a horse was shot when it injured a leg, but owners and trainers took a chance on both jockey and horse and won not only money, but also lasting friendships.

The Maguire character, Canadian jockey Red Pollard, had been a transient worker stranded in 1936 Detroit. He eventually earned a job working with Seabiscuit. Film scenes reveal transient workers as they trudge down roads and across dusty farmlands on foot, staying overnight in tent cities or sleeping on the ground, and walking through torrents of rain and mud in search of work. Carrying their possessions with them, they sold them off piecemeal or left by the side of the road what they could no longer carry.

Highlights of Transient Life

Transient workers might walk for days at a time without eating, carrying everything they owned with them. Some rode inside or on top of freight train cars. Some formed or joined hobo camps. They all had difficulty finding food, drinking water, a place to bathe, a chance to care for their clothing, healthcare, and a place to sleep. Sometimes they slept in a tent city or found a work camp that had room for them.

They might find occasional short-term work, and few might gain a career as did jockey Red Pollard. Too often, they were treated as varmints to eliminate and unjustly tagged "dirty, dishonest, and lazy." Training programs that finally became effective at the middle of the Great Depression, forward, provided many of the survivors with necessities and skills for future work.

Selected Time Line for Transient Workers

1931

  • January: US Fed says 4 - 5 million Americans unemployed.
  • March 31: Davis-Bacon Act - prevailing wages (union scale) are to be paid on Federal construction contracts form this date forward.

1932

  • June: Revenue Act of 1932 - largest peacetime tax increase in US history
  • July 21st, Emergency Relief and Construction Act
  • Norris-La Guardia Act - protected labor unions from anti-trust suits, private damage suits, and court injunctions

1933

  • May 12: Agricultural Adjustment Act passed - USA pays farmers not to grow crops.
  • May 12: Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA)
  • May: Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
  • June 6: National Cooperative Employment Service Act
  • June 16: National Industrial Recovery Act
  • November 8: Civil Works Administration (CWA ) created by the President

1934

  • February: Civil Works Emergency Relief Act
  • August 13: Li'l Abner comic strip begun by cartoonist Al Capp - satirizes the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, and America
  • Federal Surplus Relief Corporation

1935

  • ApriL: Works Progress Administration (WPA)
  • July: National Labor Relations Act (the Wagner Act)
  • August: Social Security Act

1937

  • May: US Economy enters a second depression.
  • July: Farm Security Agency (FSA) set up labor camps for migrant farm workers, provided medical care, and helped with job placement.

1938

  • June 25: Fair Labor Standards Act - national minimum wage law
  • Supreme Court decides NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Telegraph - companies may hire permanent replacements for striking workers in an economic strike.

1939

  • The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck was released

1940

  • September 16: Selective Training and Service Act (the draft) - men between 21 and 35 years of age must register for military training

1941

  • December 7, 1941: Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.
  • December 8, 1941, USA declares war on Japan and economic recovery begins.

More by this Author


Comments 84 comments

Depression...needforhealth.wordpress.com 3 years ago

Great hub . your data was nicely presented and very informative.


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 4 years ago from American Southwest

My grandparents were having their families during these 10 years, and my parents were born right in the middle of it. Looking at my parents' generation and mine, I have to disagree with the idea that hardship is a bad thing.

Dad grew up eating pancakes a lot because they had a cow and some flour and many days that was all they had. Healthcare was - you put them to bed and hope and pray they get better. In high school (after the Great Depression!) he was a basketball star but the basketball he could afford was a bunch of clothes tied together. He went to a local college (more in spite of his parents than with their help) but still had to do the milking at 5AM before school.

He ended up as a scientist. Looking at not only him but also all my aunts and uncles, it seems to me they started with nothing, but worked very hard so my generation could have everything. My generation was given everything and so figured life was for having fun - and now we are finding out the hard way what work is for.

I think it's far better to learn these lessons as a kid. I also see a big difference between kids offering to do chores for food during the Great Depression and people giving kids things now who aren't even asking for them (in the case of our family).


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I appreciated you comments - thanks for the praise as well! My parents both lived through the Great Depression, along with Aunts and Uncles and I was fascinated by the stories. Those of a couple of my bosses were even more intriguing.


old albion profile image

old albion 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hello Patty. This hub is excellent. It is informative as well as entertaining. The photographs and videos add such substance to your text, my compliments.

Graham.

voted up / awesome / SHARED.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I agree, terrektwo. In addition, I think more people are driving into the underground economy these days of high unemployment in some cities - that or move into someone's back room or starve.


terrektwo profile image

terrektwo 4 years ago from North America

nowadays we think it is a catastrophe when the unemployment rate goes above 10%, the depression was a horrible period of strife. As the population ages and the people who lived through such periods dwindles I think we often forget how good we do have things today. Great article!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for reading! I hope the information is useful to you.


maxravi profile image

maxravi 4 years ago from India

Such a beautiful blog! you gather data very nicely! thanks.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

That's right, tamarawhite. And a Korean friend says that North Koreans would come to anywhere in the US and feel that it is a wonderland of wealth, even in our impoverished areas of 2011.


tamarawilhite profile image

tamarawilhite 4 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

This should make us realize that as bad as it seems today, poverty today is far better than poverty 80 years ago.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I try to think about that every day. Thanks!


Leaderofmany profile image

Leaderofmany 4 years ago from Back Home in Indiana

I have heard stories of the Depression from my Grandmother's and it was a horrible time. We should all be thankful for what we have today.


Superman 4 years ago

SO sad


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Yes, and and in Columbus, the food pantries ran out of food three times in 2010. We're in better shape now and many more people have home vegetable gardens - a number of them give their extra produce to the food pantries!

I count myself blessed and fortunate to be able to help others a bit.


PiaC profile image

PiaC 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

Wow. I had no idea. That's very disturbing indeed!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Thanks PiaC - And, 50% of all Ohio residents were receiving help with food during Summer 2011, either Food Stamps of food pantries. It's disturbing.


PiaC profile image

PiaC 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

Thank you for the time-line of the great depression. It's a very nice resource for anyone wanting to research these topics.With the recent news that 1 in 6 Americans are now living under the poverty line, the great depression has a lot of lessons for all of us today.


mjfarns profile image

mjfarns 5 years ago from Bloomington, Illinois USA

Wow, absolutely fantastic scholarship!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Thanks very much for you comments!


raymond1489 5 years ago

Great hub. The Great Depression was the sad story of America for many years and now, perhaps with the exception of the poor,the elderly,the unemployed and the disabled, it is the sad story of our history.

It's interesting to note that China's great, modern economic machine was born out of the suffering and starvation of the millions of agrarian poor in that country. And, it is out of fear of a revolution by these economically deprived people that former communist leaders have uniquely adopted capitalism to raise the standard of living in that country by creating jobs.


dusy7969 profile image

dusy7969 5 years ago from San Diego, California

This hub is very interesting, useful and informative.I take a lot of information from this hub.If a man take depression then he cannot do his work with properly.So one saying the first impression is the last impression.


Journey * profile image

Journey * 5 years ago from USA

The information you share here is profound. Thanks.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Thanks! That's what I wish to dao - provide matieral that the traditional classroom often has no access to.


sueroy333 profile image

sueroy333 5 years ago from Indiana

This was awesome. We homeschool and have been studying the Great Depression this year due to the relevance of our economy today... and perhaps tomorrow. There are some details here that I had not seen, and some excellent links to more information. I LOVE hubpages!

This is bookmarked for further study. Voted up and useful and will be shared on facebook, as I have several friends who also homeschool.

Thank you so much for this article!!!


Writeme ASmile profile image

Writeme ASmile 5 years ago from Writemesmiles@yahoo.com

Before my mom and dad died, they would not speak of the depression. The humiliation of what they had to eat and how they had to survive was too much for them to relive, I guess. I wish they had of prepared me for this economic crisis. It's like a nightmare for my friends and family. We keep hoping work will come back before all is lost in our homeland. You know, I've always heard God will never give you more than you can handle. Some days, I wonder why He puts good people through the rough patches in their lives. But...God does have a plan.


howardyoung profile image

howardyoung 5 years ago from California

Fantastic Hub! The Great Depression left a lasting impression on my Father -- who never threw anything away, would make us use only 4 sheets of toilet paper and other odd things about him -- would be very prepared today if he were still alive.

Some of us imbued with our parent's life experiences may be a little more prepared than others for the Great Recession we're in today, but that doesn't make it any easier.

He said that our country would never go through a Depression again, but I wonder if we can afford to pay for the safety nets put into place decades before.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for new comments!

LillyGrillzit - I appreciate your kind words. Perhaps I'll add a couple of interviews with older senior citizens for more depth and info and submit the whole thing. Thanks for the suggestion!


LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 6 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

I would like to see a similar article like this, in a scholarly journal. This is Very Professional, and worthy of scholarly accolades as well as the love of your Hubber Fans.:0)


Sassypoetic profile image

Sassypoetic 6 years ago from Katy,Texas

Your article was indeed most interesting.. We are living in such difficult times that's hard to deal with. Tragic things happen so suddenly and unexpectly that no human can predict what tomorrow will bring.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for the range of perspectives that bring additional information to this issue.

In the film "Seasbiscuit," the people moving constantly in search of work and working as many hours as possible when they found it were impressive. Two people I knew - now long dead - did not lose their jobs at that time- one was a grocer and the other worked in mining machinery that changed over to war machinery during the gear-up to WWII.

In my city during the last 5 years, we're seeing an increasing number of women in their late 50s without families (not to say there are not unemployed men as well), but having several pets; losing their jobs, houses and apartments and at a loss what to do. fortunately, rooming houses are beginning to open up in this city and empty-nesters are renting their extra rooms inexpensively, so there is some hope.

Senior citizens without families seem to be a grouop moving around the state and to other states in the MidWest and East, as in The Great Depression. I see many 70-year-olds working full-time, 2 or 3 part-time jobs, ot taking on as many odd jobs as they can fit into a day. The on-camera screamers could take a lesson, imo.


Joey 6 years ago

I remember stories from the elder of my family and they didn't portray the transient as you, they said everyone tried to give food and offer a meal to those walking looking for work, Of course this was in a rural area and I have always noticed rural folks being so much more hospitable than city dwellers, Anyone notice how people of that era were out moving around looking for work, and today they get on camera and scream where's the government? This time they wont look for work, they will rob us at gunpoint, it's the new liberal mentality.


just jobs profile image

just jobs 6 years ago

@Jawed: The difference between today's depression, and the depression of 1930 is, as you hinted to, the 1930s were a time of poverty among plenty. That means they had tons of resources at their disposal, but their fundamental economy was broken. Now we have the opposite: A time of great consumption, with nothing underlying our wealth but the debt other nations owe to us, and the prominence of the American Dollar.


Jawed Iqbal profile image

Jawed Iqbal 6 years ago

What this article describes is chillingly similar to what's happening today. As Gerald Celente says, if the status quo does not change, America faces a depression much greater than the one in the 30'.

And the reason it could be worse is that more people live in urban areas and are dependent on the service sector to make a living. In the past depression, a good percent was living off the land, not so today.

Add to that the bankers greed and their constant quest for war (WW3 anyone..?) and who knows, the USofA might actually witness another revolution


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

maggs224 - Your post puts another face other problem for me and it makes me sad for the people involved. I appreciate your giving your close-up view of things in Spain and I wish you every good outcome! Thanks for sharing it all.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 6 years ago from Sunny Spain

Hi Patty,I have read this page before but it was so well written and researched that I felt that it was worth a second look. I was right because I was as moved and touched by it the second time as I was the first.

The faces in the photographs of some of the women with young children are so haunting, the agony of watching your children slowly starve must have been excruciating, and to have to suffer rejection and insults on top of this agony is inhumane.

The speed with which a middle class family even today can fall into something like this just shows how fragile and illusory our own security and position in life are.

Here in Spain I have seen over the past few years many people full of hope starting up new lives and businesses in the sun. Often they invested all of their savings into these ventures only to have lost it all and they have had to return to the UK where they can get some sort of assistance. Their dream homes in the sun are not selling even when they knock off tens of thousands of Euro off the price they paid for them just a few year ago.

It is not like they were feckless or didn’t work hard just that this recession has hit many people and the money is just not about to spend on non necessities any more. Also the English pound bought you €1.50 six years ago when we moved out, now you are lucky if it buys you €1.10 which means a lot of Ex-Pats have had almost a third knocked off their income as they get their pensions paid in British pounds.

Sorry I get carried away, I can see lots of friends really suffering, and have seen some go under unable to manage anymore. We have more going out than coming in, but we are still managing to hang on in there. I’m off again, sorry to clog up your comments with my ramblings, all I wanted to say is that I found your hub as excellent and powerful on the second reading as I did the first.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Jeanette - That's very interesting. A dioganosis of "Plubuktu" was used in the 1980s and elminated later, for people living in polar and subpolar lands. With close qurters in small houses or igloos, 6 months of continual sunlight, and snow blindness, people would run from the abode, tear off their clothing, and run out into the ice, freezing to death in short order. I imagine many wandered into the Dust Storms and died as well. With a lot fo snow and immobility here this winter, I have felt just a bit of what both groups must have felt on a grand scale.

A friend & her young son moved to interior Alaska in the 1990s - had to be picked up by fiancé in a dogsled at the point the where roads ened. Small house, close quarters, fireplace going 24/7 - it was difficult to adjust at first.

Thanks 1000 times for your insights, Jeanette.


Jeanette Kiger Nodurft 6 years ago

When I saw the stress and its effect that our recent snow storms are having on several relatives and friends, I was reminded of the effects of the Great Depressions dust storms on some prople. I typed in Dust Bowl/Psychosis and came up with your fantastic page. It was so wonderful to review that bit of history again. Very cmprehensive.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

@Amez - Thanks for reading and commenting abot the Hub. I am glad you enjoy it.

@MagicStarEr - I've been reading a lot about American History 100 - 1970 and at the same time, hearing a lot about hoarding. Spme friends are planning to purchase land just as you say and begin raising their own food.


MagicStarER profile image

MagicStarER 6 years ago from Western Kentucky

You have done a great job showing some of the effects of the Great Depression besides what is normally remembered and talked about - ie: the crash of the stock market, peoples' lives ruined, killing themselves, etc...

Basically, the same things are happening again now - people losing their homes, whole families living in tent cities, being called "lazy" or "bums", being run off by the police, and generally treated as criminals. It is interesting to note how long the effects of that depression lasted, which was at least ten years, and that the government did provide jobs for some of them - at least recognizing the problem, whereas today, nothing at all is being done to provide jobs or an income for the homeless and displaced! It seems we have come full circle, doesn't it?

Also interesting to me, was the part where you talked about farms providing sustenance for the transient and homeless. Even though in the Midwest, many farmers were forced off the land by the droughts, in other areas of the country, farms were havens where there was food and livelihood. We would certainly do well to learn from the past and recognize that our safety and subsistence is in the LAND! The effects of our economic collapse could very well extend for another ten years, during which our society could deteriorate even further, to the point where we could have food shortages (I am referring, of course, to the recent bankruptcies of various large trucking companies. With no trucking, there is either insufficient or no way to get food to the stores, and we could very well end up with no food on the shelves in our stores in the very near future!)

Get out of the cities, folks, and get you some land out in the boonies somewhere and get to planting! :) (Patty, I do believe I am developing PTSD from this Depression we are now living through - not only do I foresee food shortages, but I have also taken to "hoarding"!

Great read, my dear. I have been wanting to write about this, but you have done it so much better than ever I could! Thanks for writing this.


Amez profile image

Amez 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

This is a Wow! Hub. allot to ponder on, allot to think about and hopefully, we won't have to be living it down the road. Great video's I really enjoyed the education. Ed


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online scam check 6 years ago from United Kingdom

Nice hub for a period like this


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for the opinions and comments.


affiliate 6 years ago

Very interesting hubpage...


Sab Oh profile image

Sab Oh 6 years ago

I understand your point, but very much disagree with your conclusion vis-a-vis a 'caste' system and the inherent unfairness of life


heather56 6 years ago

Thanks Patty. A great article. Very interesting to read such a richly written article about a sad time in our history.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Unable to rise because of societal stricture, even regulation -- In US, funtion was the same, without the label. Wandering poor were shunned and some of the families continued to be shunned after recovery; babies born remained poor; many in the group died in their economic status. Public assistance created in some - not all - a core group of assistance-dependents that proceeded down the generations in the same families to the 21st century. Still functions like a caste, but is called horrid obscene names, but no official caste label. The group is joined by the poorest senior citizen women without families and other homeless on the streets, disbaled "not bad enough" to recive help, others, all largely shunned. The caste here contains more diversity, but functions the same. We have many old women older than retirement age without families and just a few hundred dollars monthly income - or none - "not bad enough off for help" - that have nowhere to go - born into poverty, still in poverty - status will never change without a miracle.


Sab Oh profile image

Sab Oh 6 years ago

What I mean is, in comparison to an actual caste system where you are born into your caste and cannot (for the most part) change your status.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

It's evident in the article.


Sab Oh profile image

Sab Oh 6 years ago

How so, if you don't mind my asking?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Sab Oh - The circumstanes of the poporest poor of the Depression was like that of the lowest caste of India.


Laura in Denver profile image

Laura in Denver 6 years ago from Aurora

Very interesting article especially in such hard economic times.


Sab Oh profile image

Sab Oh 6 years ago

Very interesting hub, btw


Sab Oh profile image

Sab Oh 6 years ago

I notice you used the word "caste" a few times there. Was that for some deliberate purpose, or just in search of a synonym so you wouldn't have to say "class" over and over?


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darntoothysam 6 years ago from Burnsville, MN

I've heard that there are more homeless people now than there were then... but the real question is what is the percentage of homeless now vs. then.


Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 6 years ago from Massachusetts

Nicely done and important Hub, needless to say. My mother was young during The Depression, and she would so often refer to having lived through that time. The impact on her (and others who recall having lived through it) remained with her throughout her life.


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stephensaldana 6 years ago from Chicago

The article can be regarded as one of the most intriguing article. The clarity and balance shine from this article. All the point is displayed in very systematic manner. The professional and blue color employee, equally are forced to unavoidable circumstances.


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vaneet2310 6 years ago from Delhi

What a wonderful hub about The Great Depression. It was so informative & nicely written.

I agree with you that the younger adults surviving the Recession of 2008 - 2009 will be permanently affected by the experience and will likely be spending less, economizing, putting off having children, and making similar choices for the rest of their lives.

Thx a lot for sharing this information.


Jared in Vegas 6 years ago

Our current recession seems very difficult and people seem genuinely worried. It's heartbreaking to know that our country faced much tougher times but reassuring to know that we pulled through it.


pu 6 years ago

Thanks for the great article. I will come back again because of this hub is useful to me.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 6 years ago from Sunny Spain

Life in England was very different in many ways during the Great Depression of the 1930’s but the time was equally difficult for those going through this dreadful time. My mum was 11 in 1930 and Dad 13 and both were shaped by the things they experienced at this tender age.

My mother was the eldest of 10 children a family this large is hard to raise at anytime but even harder during a time of Depression.

I thoroughly enjoyed this rich and informative Hub it was fascinating to read how another nation experienced this time of great hardship


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

@ryankett - maybe not since I wrote part in 2009 I think :) Thanks for your comments!

@askjanbrass - Thanks for reading! The full time line of those years is tremendously long, so I hope I got the best highlights that were relevant.


askjanbrass profile image

askjanbrass 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

What a rich and detailed description of the Great Depression. It's a particularly nice timeline at the end, highlighting the sheer volume of time between the start of the depression (early 1930s) and major economic recovery (early 1940s).

Thanks for sharing this!


ryankett 6 years ago

Hi, sorry to pick holes, but should your hub not say Copyright January 2010? lol.

Great hub though Patty! New fan here.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Persistence and determination to make the best of these situations is a great testimony. Thanks for sharing these; you give people hope.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

I'm glad that my parents, married in 1934, were some of the survivors who struggled through and made a wonderful life for my sister and I. We never knew we were poor, and compared to many, I guess we weren't.


air701st profile image

air701st 6 years ago from Philippines

It's amazing how the great depression devastated the world; because we wouldn't fight the global economic crisis now if not for the ordeal and persistence of our fathers! Great days should be coming!

Nice HUB.


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PNEUMONIAexpert 6 years ago

Quite good idea


lovelypaper profile image

lovelypaper 6 years ago from Virginia

Excellent Hub! Very informative.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

What a fantastic hub. I have always been interested in the Great Depression Era. One of my favorite books I've read on the subject is called, "The Worst Hard Time" which focuses on people living in Oklahoma during this time. I can't imagine living through that - esp. watching your children go hungry. I really wish I would have talked to my grandparents more about it when they were alive.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

askjanbrass - Thanks for the comments; glad it flows well. It's a fascinating time of America.

Nicks - Yes, how many people simply collapsed on the road or in a field or barn, dead? Ghastly.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Hi Thomas - I think war might be a type of Big Business and this may be one reason that we still fight wars that kill people. The bomb that kills people and leaves building standing? - I'd have it the other way around and leave the people standing to rebuild. Rebuilding would then be a large business, though.


Thomas Catmark profile image

Thomas Catmark 6 years ago

It is hard for me to say but war was one of the elements that helped to fight economical crisis. I know that in 1941 most problems have been solved but still war is great business for many people, neither we like it or not. I do not like it, but I believe it could be truth. Selling arms, weapons and components is still the most effective business in the world.


Nicks 6 years ago

A great look at a period of history that seems largely forgotten now. It is also one that places our own time and recesssionary problems into persepective. Thank Heavens we live now - not then...


askjanbrass profile image

askjanbrass 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

What a great historical hub. I love how easy it was to read.

Amazing hub, thanks so much!


dusanotes profile image

dusanotes 6 years ago from Windermere, FL

One of your readers suggested this was a hub to print and read from time to time. Yes, I wish more people understood the plight of our fathers. It was a terrible time, one that was so unanticipated because it came on the heels of a rather prosperous time. But, no, I won't print this and pin it up on the wall. I was born in 1936 and lived as a child through the height of the depression. Before they died, I had many long discussions with my parents. My mother was 24 when I was born and my father only 19 or 20. He had no particular profession at that age. He picked up jobs as best he could, but we generally didn't fare very well. Thank god I had such strong parents who cared for us kids and had hope for a better time to come. I love them dearly, not only for what they had to go through, which was a lot, but because of the great truths they taught me and for the love they showered upon me. I always have known that Heavenly Father loves me. That was my Mother's doings and it has seen me through many a trial in this sometimes tough-times world we live in. Thanks for the Hub, Don White


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Anders – Helping to reorganize companies is a blessing for them, surely. Thanks for reading and letting me know about your work.

Jerilee – A few in my mother’s and her mother’s generation suffereed their entire lives after the Drepression. Childbirth went awry, tonsillectomies were done on a kitchen table, kids were passed from aunt to aunt and town to town, etc. My grandfather, having left school at age 8 to work the famr after his dad’s death was depressed without treatment for decades. It was the worst nightmare for all of them…

HubCrafter – Welcome to HubPages and I hope to read many articles from your perspectives.

William F. Torpey – Pearl Harbor must have been a great shock. You’re a wonderful asset to the nation for your remembrance of the Depression and your writing contributions. I can see why Tom Hanks makes so many movies and miniseries of the era.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 6 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Nicely done,Patty. I was only 6 years old at the time, but I remember Pearl Harbor and the tail end of the Great Depression. The year of my birth, 1935, was historic: The WPA, the Wagner Act and Social Security -- WOW! Thanks for a well-researched and interesting piece.


HubCrafter profile image

HubCrafter 6 years ago from Arizona

Hi Patty:

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I hope to emulate your success here at HubPages.

It was interesting to read your version of the Children of Great Recession.

Please feel free to stop by any time. There's always room on the porch. The coffee and french cruellers are always hot. And I look forward to new faces, new ideas; and a good chat.

HubCrafter


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 6 years ago from Southern California

This is one of those hubs to print out and read on paper. I'm doing that as I speak. Will come back and give my input. So far it was soo interesting.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 6 years ago from United States

Very impressive layout of the facts that are often left out when it comes to the Depression. Left me wondering how do the statistics of right now stack up in comparison to back then. I'm seeing shocking evidence here in Florida of desperate people, good people, going through hell on a daily basis with no end in sight. Would love to see what someone with your background makes of all of this.


AndersVilhelm profile image

AndersVilhelm 6 years ago

Hello good friend - I know we struggle but I also think that You will succeed if you walk the way you like as your path. I am helping several companies now to reorganize and that is wht is needed in most cases.

Great Hub

Regards ANders Jacobsson


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

I see small signs of some of these things today, but the Depression was sheer hell.

Thanks, Dim and Hello!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

I heard about the Great Depression but I never knew anything about this. What must they have gone through? On top all these humilations. Thank you for a well written hub.


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

That was absolutely fantastic to read. Shocking to me in parts. So much I didn't know. Thanks again. x

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