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The Great Depression: Hardship and Suffering

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1 The Great Depression: Hardship and Suffering
USHG (Depression and The New Deal) Resource The Great Depression: Hardship and Suffering United States History and Geography HSCE: 7.1.2 KC 4 Social Studies © 2009 Kent ISD

2 Main Idea of Section During the Great Depression Americans did what they had to do to survive.

3 The Depression Devastates People’s Lives
Depression in the cities Depression in rural areas The Dust Bowl

4 Depression in the Cities
Unemployment rate only tells part of the story More importantly was the impact it had on people’s lives The Depression brought hardship, homelessness, and hunger to millions

5 Homelessness People lost jobs, were evicted from their homes, and ended up in the streets Some people lived in sewer pipes or parks, keeping “warm” wrapping themselves in newspaper Others built makeshift shacks out of scrap material When these joined together, they became known as shantytowns




9 Observer of Settlement
“Here were all these people living in old, rusted-out car bodies… There were people living in shacks made of orange crates. One family with a whole lot of kids were living in a piano box… People were living in whatever they could junk together.”

10 Soup Kitchens and Bread Lines
Poor had to dig through garbage cans or beg for food Soup kitchens offered free or low-cost food Bread lines were lines of people waiting to receive food from charitable organizations or public agencies Al Capone’s “contribution”

11 Herman Shumlin – A Personal Voice
“Two or three blocks along Times Square, you’d see these men, silent, shuffling along in a line. Getting this handout of coffee and doughnuts, dealt out from great trucks… I’d see that flat, opaque, expressionless look which spelled, for me, human disaster. Men… who had responsible positions. Who had lost their jobs, lost their homes, lost their families… They were destroyed men.”

12 Minorities Face Hardships
African-Americans and Latinos had higher unemployment rates and were paid lower They also dealt with increasing racial violence from whites who were competing for the same jobs Many Hispanics relocated to Mexico voluntarily or were deported

13 Depression in Rural Areas
Falling prices and rising debt… WHY? Between 1929 and 1932, 400,000 farms were lost through foreclosure Foreclosure – Process by which banks took back farms when the owner could not make a payment Turned to tenant farming to scrape out a living

14 The Dust Bowl Drought in Midwest wreaked havoc on Great Plains. Why did this happen? Farmers from TX to ND broke up the grassland with tractors and planted millions of acres of farmland. This removed the thick prairie grasses. Farmers exhausted the farmland soil and it became unsuitable for growing crops



17 Headed West Thousands of people migrated to California
Known as “Okies”, originally for people from Oklahoma then becoming a negative term referring to migrants

18 Effects on the American Family
Men in the Streets, Looking for Work Women Struggle to Survive Children Suffer Hardships Social and Psychological Effects

19 Men in the Streets Hobos – 300,000 men traveled around in boxcars looking for work, all the while sleeping under bridges Unemployment or food stamps? For the most part, no. NYC gave out $2.39 per family, not nearly enough to survive.

20 HOBO SYMBOLS to indicate danger or services available…
Investigate the Hobo symbols and determine the importance of each one.


22 Thomas Wolfe – Personal Voice
“These were the wanderers from town to town, the riders of freight trains, the thumbers of rides on highways, the uprooted, unwanted male population of America. They… gathered in the big cities when winter came, hungry, defeated, empty, hopeless, restless… always on the move, looking everywhere for work, for the bare crumbs to support their miserable lives, and finding neither work nor crumbs.”

23 Women Struggle to Survive
Men were gone looking for work or just gone Canned food and sewed clothes Working women became targets of resentment, as did African-Americans and Latinos Some women were too ashamed to reveal their hardship and starved to death in attics

24 Maridel Seuer – Personal Voice
“I’ve lived in cities for many months, broke, without help, too timid to get in bread lines. I’ve known many women to live like this until they simply faint in the street… A woman will shut herself up in her room until it is taken away from her, and eat a cracker a day and be as quiet as a mouse… [She] will go for weeks verging on starvation… going through the streets ashamed, sitting in libraries, parks, going for days without speaking to a living soul, shut up in the terror of her own misery.”

25 Children Suffer Hardships
Falling revenues caused school boards to shorten school year and even close schools. By 1933, 2600 schools had closed leaving 300,000 students out of school. What happened to these children? Children would hop around the country to “escape poverty” on railcars. Exciting life but often dangerous with 24,647 dead and 27,171 injured on railroad property from


27 Social and Psychological Effects
– Suicide rate rose 30% Three times as many people were admitted to state mental hospitals as in normal times Stopped going to doctors and dentists - no $ Put off college and making families or even getting married

28 Why Does This Matter?

29 Why It Matters… What lessons have Americans learned from the Great Depression? Farming practices? Financial Security— savings? Banking rules?

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