In the 1930's, the Great Depression hit American people hard as thousands of banks closed, 25% of workers had no jobs, and shantytowns called “Hoovervilles” sprouted up outside of cities. However, life wasn’t always this way; for many, the decade preceding the 1930's was a time of prosperity for most, with a booming stock market and the growth of industry.
NEW INNOVATIONS IMPROVE HOMELIFE
An ad for a dishwasher. These new products made daily tasks easier for Americans.
THE "NEW WOMAN" TAKES OVER YOUTH
Four flappers dance at a club. Flappers represented the newfound independence that women earned during the 1920's, and there was much enthusiasm for women's rights.
WOMEN ENCOURAGED TO USE NEWFOUND RIGHTS
An ad promoting women to join the workforce and cast a ballot. The women's rights movement was a large part of the 1920's.
Homelife in the 1920s was improved for most Americans. New products on the market made daily life easier. The “new woman” took over the young female population, with the rise of flappers and the want for freedom. The enthusiasm for women’s rights was overwhelming.
FARMERS FACE FORECLOSURE
A for sale sign in front of a foreclosed farm. As farmers faced increasing amounts of debt, many farms had to be foreclosed.
Unlike women, farmers were still having a rough time. The prosperity that was enjoyed by the rest of the country did not reach those in rural areas, and farmers often lost their homes due to their debt.
TRADITIONAL ROLES FOR WOMEN MAKE COMEBACK
A woman caring for her three children. Traditional gender roles returned as women were expected to stay home while the men worked.
FAMILIES FIND WAYS TO MAKE DO
A girl holds canned food. To make food last longer, they were often canned in order for them to stay fresh.
In the 1930's, home life changed drastically. As the unemployment rate reached 25%, unsanitary Hoovervilles were established outside of cities. Families had to make do with what they had. A return to the traditional belief that women belonged at home led to feminist ideals being dropped until the Depression ended. Women patched up old sheets and clothes instead of buying new ones, and saved food to make leftovers last in order to make ends meet.
POVERTY RUNS RAMPANT AMONG FARMERS
A farmer sitting in front of his house. Most farming communities were riddled with poverty.
Farmers were faced with foreclosure, and many were forced to leave their homes. Unlike urban dwellers, farmers often had gardens and were able to eat what they grew. However, they still had to pay back taxes and debts.
WOMEN FOCUSING ON HAVING FUN
Women enjoying a car ride. Going into town was a popular way to have fun.
AT-HOME FUN GIVES CHEAP ENTERTAINMENT
A young girl rides a wagon. Though farmers had little money, they still found ways to have fun without spending money.
Leisure time in the Twenties was plentiful, and Americans took advantage of their freedom. Drinking in speakeasies, listening to jazz and dancing in clubs were popular ways people spent their time. These pastimes were especially liked among women. Farmers had very little money to spend, so instead they found entertainment in church gatherings and other social events, and used toys at home to play with instead of going out.
ENTERTAINMENT MADE CHEAP
Four women playing a board game. Making your own fun at home quickly replaced going out into town.
FARMERS FIND WAYS TO STAY ENTERTAINED
A migrant worker plays the guitar. Music was to stay entertained without money.
During the Great Depression, families were too poor to go out anymore, so they turned to movies and the radio for cheaper forms of amusement. Women made do with what they had, and played with board games with the family and other at-home games. Farmers turned to music, as all they needed was a guitar and some voices.
FARMERS FACE GROWING SURPLUS
A farmer stand in front of a pile of corn cob surplus. After WWI, farmers were stuck with surplus, which led to reduced prices for products.
WOMEN ENTER THE WORKFORCE IN GREAT NUMBERS
Five women head off to work. Women were now encouraged to enter the workforce, and were able to support themselves.
The economy in the Twenties did extremely well. The stock market boomed, consumerism caused good to be produced at unprecedented rates, and buying on credit was popular. Women enjoyed this prosperity, and were encouraged to work and support themselves. Farmers were unaffected by the rest of the country's prosperity, and the surplus of goods generated low prices which led to farmers being deep in debt.
THE DUST BOWL DEVASTATES RURAL AREAS
A group of migrating farmers get hit by a dust storm. The dust storms that plagued farmers destroyed crops and forced them to abandon their homes.
FARMERS SEARCH FOR WORK
A farmer stand by a sign looking for orange pickers. Migration camps were places that farmers found refuge in when they lost their homes.
WIDOWED AND DIVORCED WOMEN STRUGGLE TO STAY AFLOAT
A woman hides her face as she attempts to sell her children. Many women were unable to find work, as they were labelled "greedy", and so they were often very poor.
The 1930’s brought on the Great Depression. Business closed or laid off workers and 16 million Americans were unemployed. Women who joined the workforce were frowned upon, as people believed that they were stealing jobs from men. Those who were widowed or divorced often ended up in Hoovervilles. Farmers were hit with the Dust Bowl, which led to widespread crop failure. One quarter of the population left their homes for California to work in migrant camps.
WOMEN DEMAND RIGHT TO VOTE
Women protesters hold signs advocating for right to vote for women. They demanded government action to grant them their rights.
CONGRESS PASSES 19th AMENDMENT
Newspaper article about women's new right to vote. The government helped women's rights advance.
FARMS BECOME DESOLATE PLAINS FROM BAD FARMING TECHNIQUES
A family walks across the plains. Government did nothing to regulate how farmers grew crops or help them out of their struggle.
Laissez-Faire policy characterized the 1920’s, as getting in the way of industry was considered “unamerican.” The citizens were on their own. However, government action did grant women the right to vote, as the 19th amendment assured that women would be able to cast a ballot in elections. Farmers were not helped by the government, and despite their pitiful financial state, nothing was done to help pull them out of poverty.
ELEANOR ROOSEVELT WORKS FOR WOMEN IN GOVERNMENT
Eleanor Roosevelt in her first conference with all-female reporters. The First Lady encouraged her husband to appoint women into government positions.
In the Thirties, Franklin Roosevelt revolutionized the role of government, and became the most powerful president America had ever seen. They government assumed responsibility of the American economy and people. Eleanor Roosevelt advanced women's role in the government, and she urged her husband to appoint more women. She was the symbol of public-spirited womanhood.
THE CCC GIVES WORK TO YOUNG MEN
Members of the Civilian Conservation Corps works in a field. The CCC employed men to work on environmental projects.
NEW CONSERVATION METHODS FOR FARMERS
Ad promoting farmers to follow new techniques for planting. This way, another Dust Bowl won't happen.
GOVERNMENT MAKES PAYMENTS TO FARMERS
Farmers receives a check. These government-issued checks were made to repay farmers when their crops got destroyed by order of the Agricultural Adjustment Act.
The government finally acknowledged the suffering of farmers, and acted accordingly. The AAA was passed, which set limits on the size of crops and herds farmers could have in order to prevent surplus for farmers. The farmers were paid for their lost crops that were destroyed in order to get rid of surplus. The CCC employed young men were able to support their families.