Twenties/Great Depression Jacob Hamm

The period following World War I until the eve of World War II (1920-39) was one of dizzying economic heights of the Roaring Twenties followed by the Great Depression.

Twenties Wealth: Party

The 1920's were a time of affluence in urban areas. A new upper class of wealthy business moguls set the tone for a decade of consumerism. Driven by corporate profits, stock market gains, and a consumer driven economy urban upper and middle classes prospered in the 20's. This did not extend to all...rural farm areas did not share in the economic growth.

Twenties Women: Fashion

Women in the 1920's began to challenge traditional roles and expectations. Nowhere was this more evident than in the fashion world. Hair was cut short, hemlines came up, and corsets were thrown out. As women began entering the workforce many of the rules of society were re-drawn by a newly empowered gender. Among the most important advances for women was gaining the right to vote through the 19th Amendment.

Prohibition: Liquor Raid

One of the great social experiments of the 1920's was the passage of the 18th amendment, which brought in Prohibition. The "noble experiment" of Prohibition caused more problems than it solved. Instead of eliminating alcohol the 18th Amendment drove the alcohol industry underground. Organized crime such as bootlegging and moonshining thrived during the 1920's despite law enforcement efforts to stop it. Prohibition will eventually be repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933.

Twenties Automobiles: Ford Model T

One the big industries to advance in this period was the automobile industry. The automobile was brought to the masses by Henry Ford. Ford's Model T was a barebones, mass-produced car that could be afforded by the general public. During the 1920's society gained a tremendous amount of mobility, which would change the fabric of American cities.

Twenties Advertising: Chevrolet

The 1920's economic boom was fueled by a media driven consumer economy characterized by advertising designed to convince consumers that they needed a wide range of consumer goods. This consumer economy filled with modern conveniences improved the standard of living of the american people but led to a great deal of materialism.

Twenties Movies: Theda Bara

One of the major industries of the 1920's was the Motion Picture industry. Because of it's sunny weather, Southern California became the home of movie studios which mass produced motion pictures for worldwide release. The industry would evolve from silent movies to talkies and eventually from black and white to color movies.

Twenties Sports: Red Grange

Due to a rising broadcast industry, professional sports gained a foothold during the 1920's. The sports industry pioneered the idea of regionally and nationally supported football and baseball teams such as the NFL Giants, and the Major League baseball Yankees. Sports heroes such as Red Grange and Babe Ruth became household names during this period.

Twenties Writers: Ernest Hemingway

Due to the mass production of printed materials such as books, magazines and newspapers a variety of authors like Ernest Hemingway launched successful careers in the 20's. The expansion the publishing of print media expanded amount of information available while leading to rise in national literacy.

Twenties Artists: Picasso

The arts also enjoyed a boom period during the 20's. Visual art itself changed drastically due to artists such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. These artists deconstructed a lot of the orderly methods in the 1800's, while challenging viewers' perspective and judgement.

Twenties: Harlem Renaissance

Like visual art, music also went through some dramatic change during this period. Jazz musicians such as those who became famous during the Harlem Renaissance shattered the traditional flow and meter of previous musical genres. Driven by the introduction of phonographs and record albums, musicians and groups gained worldwide status.

black monday

The decade long party of the Roaring Twenties came to an abrupt end with the stock market crash of October 1929. The Black Monday crash set off a series of events that collapsed a financial system that had been fueled by over-speculation in stocks, combined with risky lending practices.

stock market panic; a run on the banks

The collapse of the stock market caused banks to demand repayment of margin loans. Since many bank loans were used to purchase stock that had lost value, borrowers could not pay back their loans. Because of this, banks ran short of cash, which mean that depositors could not get their money out of the banks. When depositors lost their money in the bank there was nothing left to drive the consumer based economy. People stopped purchasing goods which meant that factory workers lost their jobs. This spiral continued until what we now know as the Great Depression.

Shantytown: pittsburgh

Much of the working class was thrown out of work by the Great Depression. By 1932 unemployment had reached 25%, with many of the unemployed forced out of their homes and into shantytowns liked the one pictured above in Pittsburgh. The Great Depression had ground the economy to a halt with many Americans subsisting in poverty.

capone's soup kitchen

Many of the unemployed were compelled to visit soup kitchens like the one pictured above which had been opened by notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone. As times grew increasingly desperate people began losing faith in government and were beginning to listen to more radical ideas. In other countries this led to radical political movements like Fascism in Italy, and Nazism in Germany.

Dust bowl: Burlington, Colorado

On top of an economic collapse a severe drought struck the Great Plains. A lack of rainfall combined with risky dry-land farming practices caused a severe wind erosion event known as the dustbowl. Dust storms like the ones pictured above in eastern Colorado led to an agricultural crisis which forced many farmers off their farms.

Hoover political cartoon

The government's inability to handle the economic and agricultural crisis caused Americans to blame president Herbert Hoover. While Hoover did not cause the Great Depression, his belief that government should not dramatically intervene in the economy helped to increase the hardships of the Depression. As shown in the cartoon above, Hoover is shown detouring the American economy away from prosperity.

attacking the bonus army in d.c.

Probably the lowest point of the hoover administration was the removal of the bonus army from Washington D.C. in 1931. The bonus army was made up of unemployed ww1 veterans who camped out in Washington to demand that Congress and the President pay out their war bonuses early in order to giver them a chance to get back on their feet. Hoover's response to the Bonus Army was to have the U.S. Army force them out of D.C. as shown in the picture above.

fdr elected '32

President Hoover had to run for re-election in 1932. The Democratic nominee for President was New York Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Known as "FDR" for short, Roosevelt ran a positive yet vague campaign that promised a New Deal for the American people. Roosevelt defeated President Hoover in a landslide in the 1932 election.

fireside chat: fdr talks about bank holiday

Roosevelt took office in March of 1933. Almost immediately Roosevelt pushed through massive amounts of New Deal legislation designed to rescue the economy. Roosevelt took to the airwaves in what were known as "Fireside Chats" to communicate to the people what he expected to do to repair the collapsed economy.

Fdr political cartoon: new deal remedies

The cartoon above depicts FDR as a doctor trying to bring the economy back to health. The bottles on the table are labeled with the various alphabet soup agencies that FDR and Congress created to repair and reform the American economy.

While the New Deal softened the blow of the Great Depression, the 1930's were a decade of weak economic growth and national suffering. What followed was a war the likes the world had never seen.


1. Wealth of the 20s Picture

2. Women in the 20s Picture

3. Prohibition in the 20s Picture

4. Automobiles in the 20s

5. Advertising in the 20s Picture

6. Movies in the 20s Picture

7. Sports in the 20s Picture

8. Famous Writers in the 20s Picture

9. Famous Artists in the 20s Picture

10. Harlem Renaissance Picture

11. Stock Market Crashes Picture

12. Panic from the Crash Picture

13. Shantytowns Picture

14. Soup Kitchens Picture

15. Dustbowl Farms Picture

16. Herbert Hoover Picture or Political Cartoon

17. Bonus Army Attack Picture

18. Electing FDR Picture

19. Fireside Chats Picture

20. FDR's New Deal Political Cartoon

Created By
Jacob Hamm

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