Boom to Bust By: Anna Farruggio

The tragedy of the Great Depression affected people in many ways. The decade of the 1930s was full of hopelessness and despair. It was a time when the nation lost their confidence, the confidence that they had gained in the 1920s. The Roaring 20s was the decade of growth and prosperity and it was when the people changed the nation. Then when the stock market crashed in 1929, the mood changed and distress filled everyone. The economy, role of government, leisure time, and home life were affected during this era. The depression caught the previously thriving country off guard and hit hard.


One aspect that was affected was the economy. With the stock market collapsing, the people lost their savings and forced many banks into closing because they could no longer pay the people their money. The nation’s families, economy, and manufacturing businesses were doing well in the 20s, but after overproduction and surpluses took over, there was less profit everywhere. Farms were devastated by the dust storms and many lost their crops and incomes. Also, men in families had to find work while women helped out by baking their own bread or sewing their own clothes to ‘make do’ with what they had. The new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, tried to calm the people down with his “Fireside Chats” and it seemed to work because when the banks reopened after their Bank Holiday, more deposits were made than withdrawals. The economy went from blooming to foundering within these 20 years.

Black Tuesday Causes Economic Distress

The stock market crash of 1929 led many to Wall Street to attempt to withdraw their savings. Many didn't get to the banks in time because many ran out of cash and had to close their doors.

Newspapers Were Filled With This Headline After October 29, 1929

The stock market crash ruined the economy and everyone's previous confidence in it.

"Making Do"

Women and families had to make do by sewing their own clothes, baking their own bread, etc.

Women in the Workplace

Female military nurses at work.

Unhappy Women

Protesting for equality in the workplace, throughout the 20s and the 30s.

Surpluses Building Up!

Farmers didn't know what to do with all their extra produce so it piled up on grocery store shelves and the prices plummeted, causing them to make less profit.

Role of Government

Roosevelt used the developing power of the government to create the New Deal which helped rebuild the nation. The executive branch was previously not involved in business or peoples’ lives. For example, when Hoover was the president, the veterans from World War I, also known as the Bonus Army, marched outside of the White House for the bonus that they were promised for serving their country, but Hoover had troops go out and break up the crowd while he barricaded himself in the White House. Then Roosevelt replaced Hoover, the involvement of government changed significantly. Roosevelt thought he could extend his power, so he did, and to an extreme. He came up with relief, recovery, and reform programs as a part of the New Deal. For example, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which paid farmers to limit sizes of crops and herds on farms, was a recovery program because it was a temporary program that helped certain people, farmers in this case. Also First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt's efforts empowered women and got them more involved in government which got some of their individuality back into the nation. All in all, the role of government grew drastically, from the previous republican presidents', Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, Laissez-Faire policy to the more hands-on approach of the democrats.

New Deal Programs for Rural America

The Agricultural Adjustment Act limited sizes if crops and herds on farms to prevent surpluses.

Bonus Army Fighting for Pay

The WWI veterans protested for their promised cash bonuses outside of the White House until Hoover sent out troops to break up the angry crowd.

New Deal Relief

The Civilian Conservation Corps gave jobs to the "wild boys of the road' and other unemployed men to plant trees, build roads, and do other work on the environment. It provided them and their families with money for support.

The First Lady and Her Inspirational Messages

Eleanor Roosevelt addressed women, specifically, to empower them. She got women more involved in politics and government.

Goodbye Hoover! Hello Roosevelt!

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in the 1933 election. The public needed a leader and they didn't think Herbert Hoover, their previous president, did much about the problem of the Great Depression.

FDR Introduces the New Deal and Its Programs

His plan to help the nation out of the Great Depression was the New deal. It consisted of relief, recovery, and reform programs.

Banks Reopen All Over the Country After the Bank Holiday

Roosevelt gave the banks a 4 day holiday in which he talked to the people through his 'Fireside Chats' and tried to make them calm and restore their confidence in the banks. he wanted people to deposit money more than withdraw money and he got what he asked for.

New President Plans to Take Action

FDR came into office looking to extend his power as much as possible. He came in after Hoover, who did not use his power well, in the people's eyes anyway, so the people had high expectations for their new leader.

Leisure Time

The ways many spent their leisure time changed in the 20s due to the invention of convenience items like washing machines and vacuums. People had time to go out dancing, to sporting events, jazz performances by African Americans, movies, speakeasies, nightclubs, and more. In the 20s, many, especially flappers, did so for their own enjoyment and fun. In the 30s, people used these activities as distractions from the crisis they were experiencing.

Home Run!

Many people in the 1920s-1930s had time to spend time at sporting events to get away from their problems because of "convenience items" such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Many chose to spend that extra time at baseball games.

The Cotton Club

This is one of many nightclubs that many went to for fun throughout the two decades, In the 20s, people went here to enjoy themselves, however, in the 30s, many went here to 'dance their worries away' and forget about the bad situation they and the nation were in.


Radios became popular in the 1920s and remained that way through the 30s. FDR used radios to communicate to the people the current government issues and his views on them with his famous Fireside Chats." Music, radios shows, scripted skits , and more were also played on the radio.

Flappers of the 1920s

Flappers were always out and about, from dancing to drinking and smoking to being with men for fun, they were always busy!

Abandonment Rates Grow Fast

When fathers couldn't afford to support their families, they took the easy way out and use the 'poor man's divorce.' they just ran away never to return. This family isn't going to see the father again.

The New, Scandalous Dances of the 20s Become the Dances of the 30s!

The dances that were discovered and made in the 1920s for fun became a method of escape for the people suffering through the Great Depression.

The Smooth Rhythms of Jazz

Jazz was one of the many forms of art that was made in the 1920s and was made popular by African Americans involved in the Harlem Renaissance. It was performed through radios, live shows, and at clubs.

Speakeasies Remain!

People used drinking to forget about the Depression. They did so in the speakeasies of the 1920s.

Same Entertainment, New Purpose

Many went out to new and popular movies, previously known as talkies in local theatres. In the 20s, this was done for a fun activity to occupy someone for a little. In the 30s, people used them to take their minds off of and distract them from their current crisis.

Home Life

The home life of many people was affected also. Many lost their homes and experienced foreclosure or eviction because they could not afford their property. Farmers, especially, were affected because the cost of their land was high and they were not able to pay because of their loss of income. The thousands who were forced to leave their homes on farms or in cities had to move to Shanty Towns, or Hoovervilles where they made ‘homes’ out of materials they saw. Many also migrated to the west by either illegally riding the rails or packing up their belongings and driving away. Women were left to fend for themselves when ashamed men left their families. They were forced to 'make do' when they had so little. Home life was hard for many.

Dust Storms Strike the Plains

The aftermath of a storm that leaves property destroyed and people devastated.

Families Were Struck Hard

They had to learn how to 'make do' and not waste any of the little they had. For example, they ate so little that they barely survived but had just enough.

Farm Foreclosures All Over!

Farmers lost everything when they couldn't afford the mortgages on their farms any longer.

Car For Sale!

Many sold their belongings because they were in desperate need of money.

Shantytowns and Hoovervilles

Many people who had to leave their homes for any reason came to these communities and created makeshift homes using materials they found. These areas were normally found outside of cities.

Attention Unemployed!

The unemployed went to places like these so that they could provide food for themselves and their families.

Street Stands On Every Corner

Many sold random items like pencils and apples on street corners because that was the only thing they could do to scrape up some much needed money.

Come On Down!

Unemployed citizens sold apples and other items on the streets so that they could eat or support their families and more.

Chaos in the Jungle

Many hopped trains in search of jobs in cities where there were stops and in search of new opportunities.

More Migrating

People packed up and left to get to California and start over. Little did they know it wouldn't be much different.

Children Suffered Too

Children were often malnourished because their parents couldn't afford the food with the nutrients that they needed to stay healthy.

Housewives Again?

Throughout the 20s and 30s, women were expected to be doing 'womanly jobs' around the house like cooking and cleaning. This woman is clearly not happy that this stereotyping is still going on in the 30s, after all the progress women had made in the 20s and she would rather be out having a real job to support her family.

As you can see, the Great Depression left the nation in pieces. The growth turned into decay within 20 years. The economy, role of government, leisure time, and home life were greatly stirred during the times of struggle. The tragedy hurt the human experience in the 1930s.

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