The Great Depression A look into the 1930s

Wall Street Stock Market Crash

The stock market crashes and people lose millions of dollars. This did not cause the Great Depression but it was a major factor in causing a lot of struggle.

Hoover's Private Relief

Hoover tries to provide help to Americans through private charities and programs, but it does not make much of an impact.

Homelessness Spreads

A man is pictured homeless on the streets. Many people lost their money and homes in the Great Depression.

Hoovervilles Beginning to Form

Small communities called Hoovervilles, named after Hoover's unhelpful efforts, formed due to unemployment and lack of family financial support. Houses were made from cardboard, trash, and any scrap material that was in reach.

In the 1920s, the farming industry was struggling. As industry grew during this era, the demand for farm products greatly decreased. As a result, farmers did not make much money at all in the 20s. Many lost their land and crops to foreclosure. Consumerism, however, drove up the demand for products in the cities. Business was booming due to the fact that everyone had to have the new version of a product. Because people could pay on credit, they bought more than they could afford. Everyone seemed to be buying everything, including stocks. The stock market became very popular as people believed its value would continue to grow. It did, however it was rising above its real value. Nervous investors sold their stocks while prices were still high. Prices began to fall, and in 1929, the stock market crashed, leaving thousands of people in debt and broke. As the 30s rolled in, the economy dealt with a great deal of struggle. People lost millions of dollars, businesses started to close, workers were laid off and unemployment rose. In 1933, the unemployment rate hit its highest at 25%. 16 million Americans lost their jobs. Those who had jobs noticed cutbacks in time and pay. Also, a drought started to affect rural areas and farms. Wind picked up dust and dirt and the Dust Bowl destroyed most of the Great Plains. Hoover tried to help all of these problems through private assistance and charities, however it did not make as great an impact as Roosevelt’s New Deal and public help. The agricultural economy continued to suffer as business failed instead of prospering.

People Packed Their Bags

People began to flee west because they couldn't find hope or success in their current lives.

Life On The Move

Family stays in a tent after fleeing from their home.

Migrant Camps

Young children sit in a migrant camp with their families.

In the 1920s, city life was thrilling. Entertainment like movies and going out to bars were common around the city. Everyone was optimistic. However, lots of people lived in crowded, unsanitary tenements in the cities. Up to 6 families could live in one tiny room with no plumbing or kitchen area. Rural life was not much better. Farmers were losing hope. There was no need for them anymore. Most of them lost their farms to foreclosure. African Americans lived in ghettos and faced discrimination and segregation. In the 30s, African Americans continued to face racial tension. Poverty was spreading like wildfire. People had to sell everything they had to support themselves. The middle class, upper class, and working class all kept life as normal as possible. For example, instead of buying clothes, they sewed them at home. They had to “make-do.” The poor were greatly affected. They could not afford anything and had to go to soup kitchens and migrant work camps. They often lived in Hoovervilles and some even rode the rails to avoid paying to travel. The average American family was either split apart or broken down. Rates of abandonment rose.

Striking Back

People start to protest because of the lack of help for unemployment and other struggles.

Bonus Army Protest

The Bonus Army protests to get the pay and jobs they deserve.

Unemployment Rising

Black people stand in an unemployment line hoping to get money or a job.

Soup Kitchen Lines Stretch Down the Sidewalk

People stand in line for free food at a soup kitchen.

The Dust Bowl

The Dust Bowl hits the Great Plains destroying farms, crops, and homes.

Abandoned Farms

Farms are abandoned and destroyed in the Dust Bowl.

People Selling Everything

People close and try to sell their farms and homes in the West.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes president and signs the New Deal.

In the 1920s, Americans elected 3 Republican presidents: Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. All three believed in a hands off, Laissez-faire policy for business. None of them really paid attention to the problems around them. Hoover tried to fix these problems by providing private relief in the 1930s, however it was not effective. The bonus army began to strike and demand for what they believed they deserved. Finally, Franklin D. Roosevelt took over and used his power. He took action and gave the country hope. He proposed the New Deal to help get America back to its starting point. Farmers received much needed help from his programs by getting paid for not overproducing and learning how to care for crops correctly. Also, African Americans gained a Black Cabinet in government to address African American issues in the country.

Fireside Chats

Roosevelt begins to involve the country in his fireside chats to let people know the reason behind what he is doing.


A family gathers around the radio to listen to FDR's fireside chats. It fills most citizens with hope and optimism.

New Deal Programs

Young men are involved in New Deal programs to help the country get back in its place.

Black Cabinet

FDR assigns a Black Cabinet to help address African American issues in the country.

Obviously, what people did in their free time changed. In the 20s, people were always out and about entertaining themselves. Movies, going out to bars, dancing, and drinking was popular in the 20s. Because of cars and other conveniences, people could do whatever they want, whenever they wanted. However, when the law of Prohibition was passed, activities were expected to be more responsible than fun. Many people began to rebel and drink anyway. The 30s were different. Instead of doing things for fun, they did things to escape their problems like watch thriller movies or play board games. It was not much, but it was something to get their minds off of their struggles. African Americans listened and played jazz, and business owners watched movies.

Board Games

Families play board games to escape their struggles.

Jazz and Music

Citizens continue to rely on music, especially jazz, to try and alleviate their problems.

Movie Escape

Citizens also rely on the theater for an escape. Movies such as King Kong and Frankenstein were popular during the era.

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