The true story of America's longest, most severe Economic Depression Photo essay By:Sophia Molnar

Sell, sell, sell!

Groups of farmers dealing with the large amounts of surplus that they must sell.

The Great Depression brought Americans many challenges, and was known to be the deepest, longest downturn that America had ever witnessed. The economy saw vast adjustments in the 30s. Farmers particularly did poorly in the 1920s. The agriculture industry was expanding during WWI in order to produce for Europe, but when the war ended, countries no longer needed this supply. Since farmers had over-produced, they were faced with selling surplus.

Stocks are off the Charts!

Newspaper showing the outstanding outcomes of the stock market. People in the 1920s are extremely optimistic and put in all of their savings to the growing stock market.

The Money floor of New York

The 1920s Trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange.

People were buying stocks on margin and the market faced rapid expansion, reaching its peak in the 1920s. This all ended in 1929 when nervous investors sold stock to get out of the market while prices were still high. On October 29, 1929, the market crashed and businesses laid off workers.

Do ads Serve?

Freezer ad that shows that the belief of consumerism will raise the demand for goods in the 1920s.

Although consumerism stimulated the economy in the 20s, since people did not have extra income, they did not have the money for consumer goods, therefore, demand declined in the 30s. There were 16 million Americans unemployed.

Foreclosure is trending

A foreclosure sign on a mailbox due to farmers unable to pay amounts that they owe in the 1930s.

Prices decreased even lower for farmers who faced foreclosures or loss of farms to droughts and dust storms. However, in some ways, farmers were better off as they could grow their meals.

The Job of African Americans

African Americans grading beans for long hours, and facing low pay.

Prices decreased even lower for farmers who faced foreclosures or loss of farms to droughts and dust storms. However, in some ways, farmers were better off as they could grow their meals. African American businesses also failed during this time and fierce job competition with whites left the majority unemployed. The federal government was inconsistent in supplying financial aid to African Americans and many were turned away from soup kitchens.

Who is the President of Tragedy?

Picture of President Hoover who is a Republican leader and favors laissez-faire policy

Hoover believed in private relief efforts rather than government help. In contrast, Roosevelt believed that government intervention was necessary to help jumpstart the economy and nation. It was ultimately WWII that ended the depression itself as the U.S was able to finally regulate economic activity and somewhat control the economy through spending and consuming.

Bustling City brings Americans

Photo of the bustling city with cars, people, restaurants, and businesses where people come for a better life.

One aspect of society also affected by the 1930s was home life. In the 20s, more people lived in cities than on farms, and farmers faced lower prices and foreclosures. City life in the “Roaring Twenties” was exciting as the youth went against traditions with urban mass culture. Rural life, was traditional and despised the rebellious youth in large cities.

Million Dollar Bills

Photo of a wealthy couple in front of their mansion in the 30s.

By the 30s, almost everyone was in despair, except for the wealthy.

The truth of the American Life

Photo of an average (large) family in the 30s in a dirty cramped home.

The working and middles classes tried to keep a steady income, keeping life as ordinary as possible. These classes of people often had to make do with what they had. This was especially seen in the women of the era who made themselves useful at home.

Backbone to the Depression wears a Dress

Group of women taking up hard jobs in the 30s to make for the average family.

"Cutting Corners" taken on by Women

When the Depression hits, women resume to their jobs of sewing and learning to “cut corners” to support their families.

They learned to “cut corners” by learning to sew, design, and elongate meals to save money. Women contributed enormously during this time, yet people decreased their support for women’s rights and many felt that women belonged at home instead of in the workplace. More women faced unemployment and society focused on only getting men back into jobs. Rates of abandonment also increased as husbands chose the “poor man's divorce option,” and birth rates fell.

Help is Needed for African Americans

Photo of an African American mother sitting with her two kids and crying about the fact that she is unable to find work.

The poor and African Americans faced terrible despair during the 30s, too. Unemployment rate reached 25%. Millions lost their savings as banks repeatedly were collapsing. People were frustrated and scared as they were unable to make mortgage or rent payments.

Where are the People Headed?

A mother and father stand with their three boys outside of a dirty, unsanitary makeshift home, which is made of wood cardboard, etc. In the 1930s.

Many people were forced to move to shantytowns called Hoovervilles. These homes were extremely dirty and unsanitary, and made from materials such as wood or cardboard. To get a free meal, many swarmed to soup kitchens. On top of this, due to the “Dust Bowl Exodus,” 25% of the Plains states migrated to California where they would search for jobs. Some lived in shack towns and were negatively referred to as “Okies” and “Arkies.”

Where are the Jobs Going?

Photo of two African American iron ore miners during the Great Depression.

African Americans were also impacted. They had the burden of competing with whites for jobs, even more so in the 30s as failing sharecroppers from the south were taking their jobs. They were being fired from job positions and it was hard to find employers that would be willing to hire them.

The Bad Farewell of Mexican Immigrants

Photo that shows the mass deportation of Mexican Immigrants

Finally, immigrants from Mexico went to migrant work camps for food and shelter as a way to get by. Many worked for the railroad which not only provided earnings, but a means to move their families to the Northeast.

Conveniences bring U.S Convenience

Photo of a lady happy about her convenience items that make her life easier, such as an oven.

Leisure in the 20s was greatly impacted by modern conveniences. Because WWI had just ended, people focused on having fun. Women were especially able to do so with convenience items such as the washing machine, oven, and vacuum cleaner. People listened to jazz, danced, and attended sporting events and cinemas.

Men Object to Following Prohibition Rules

Photo of a group of men protesting the prohibition law in the 20s.

Prohibition was a huge issue in the 20s as traditionalists and women wanted prohibition, and modernists did not. When they did impose a prohibition law, alcohol was smuggled in or sold at speakeasies. When President Roosevelt was elected into office, Prohibition ended.

Hunger in the Line Up

Line of unemployed men stand outside a soup kitchen in Chicago hoping for food after they lose everything from the crash.

The Magic of Moving Pictures

Stressed out Americans resort to watching Mickey Mouse and Shirley Temple in movies to give them temporary comic relief after the 1930s crash.

In the 30s, people had no money for their needs, let alone wants. To escape reality, men and women turned to the cinemas and arts, and two-fifths of Americans saw at least one movie per week. African Americans especially turned to music, specifically jazz. Since people could no longer afford going to clubs, they would dance or listen to the radio with friends.

The Fight for the U.S Vote

Sign that tells Americans to vote for Democratic leader, Roosevelt.

Lastly, the role of government changed during the 30s. In the 1920s, there were three Republican presidents, Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. These presidents supported laissez-faire policy, saying that government should leave businesses alone. Hoover believed in “trickle down economics.” However, little money reached those who were in desperate need.

Veterans are Furious when they do not receive what they want from the Government

Photo of the bonus army at the Capital Building in Washington, D.C furious as to why they are not receiving payments to support their families.

In fact, a group of 20,000 veterans known as the Bonus Army marched on Washington protesting bonuses they were promised from WWI.

What does President FDR do First?

New York Times headlines showing FDR's 4 day bank holiday was put in place.

In the end, Hoover was unable to get America out of the Great Depression. Roosevelt, however, provided the promise of a “New Deal” to Americans in the 30s. He first declared a four day bank holiday, where he closed all banks to slow down public withdrawals and put $2 billion dollars into the banking system.

First African Americans in Government under FDR

Photo of the U.S cabinet which was the first black cabinet created by FDR.

Plus, various acts supporting workers and the unemployed were added. Overall, people had faith in his plans, designed for relief, recovery, and reform. African Americans also supported Roosevelt as he appointed them to over one hundred government posts and established a black cabinet.

FDR come Close with Farmers

FDR with farmers smiling, and bringing them hope when he passes the Agricultural Adjustment Act. This set limits on crop production, and farmers who agree to such terms would get paid a subsidy. This allowed them to no longer have to lose their farms.

What FDR has up his Sleeve

Image of Franklin D. Roosevelt signing his New Deal programs being the New President in the 1930s.

Roosevelt also helped farmers by passing the AAA Act, setting limits on crop production and paying farmers who followed suit.

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