The Great Depression

The 1920’s

During the 1920’s, the population was 106,521,537 people.
The unemployed reached 2,132,000 people, which was a rate of 5.6% of the population.
The average earnings of the employed were $1,236.00 per year.
Life expectancy for men was 53.6 years and for women, 54.6 years.
A teacher was compensated about $970.00 per year.
Illiteracy was at a new low of 6%.
The Dow Jones High was around 100 and the Low reached 67.
This period of time was also known as “The Roaring 20’s” and there was much gangland activity, which involved murder, extortion, swindling and racketeering.
Travel from California to New York took 13 days and there were about 387,000 miles of paved roads through out the country.

Life and the economy was booming during World War 1, due to the government spending large sums of money to buy war related supplies. Peopled were employed and spending money, but when the government began to cut back on spending to balance the budget, a severe recession resulted.
Much money was invested in manufacturing and there was an explosion in productivity in certain sectors of the economy.
With over production but no place to sell the products, things took a turn for the worse. With no sales, companies were not making money so workers began to lose jobs. Over 600 banks began failing each year. Organized labor began to decline and over the decade, 1,200 mergers took over 6,000 independent companies. Toward the end of the decade, only 200 corporations controlled half of the American industry.

The Crash of 1929

Then, on October 29, 1929 the Stock Market collapsed creating the Great Depression. This Depression originated in the United States and eventually affected virtually every country. International trade dropped by half to two-thirds, and so did personal income taxes, tax revenues, prices and profits. All around the world, cities were hard hit that depended on heavy industry. Building construction came to a halt in many countries. Farming and rural areas suffered as the price of crops dropped by nearly 60%. Areas that were dependant on logging, farming and mining were hit the hardest and employment became very scarce.

The Dust Bowl Years

From 1930 and up to 1940 in some areas, there were many dust storms, which were caused by major draught and the poor farming practices that were utilized. Farmers did not do crop rotation, and this along with the draught, caused severe erosion problems. The earth dried up and became dust. With nothing growing to keep the dirt in place, winds picked up vast amounts of the dirt, creating large dust storms. These dust storms blew eastward and southward and visibility at times was reduced to a few feet. These dust storms kept people indoors and made life extremely harder for people. Well over 5 million acres of wheat were destroyed during these dust storms.
The most devastating dust storm occurred in 1935 and became known as Black Sunday.

Black Sunday

April 14, 1935 was a Sunday that started out with nice blue skies. People having been unable to enjoy themselves because of the dust storms, wandered outside to go to church, do chores and enjoy the sunshine. At mid-afternoon, the temperature began to drop and birds began to chirp nervously. People looked at the horizon and saw a huge black cloud moving fast towards them. The people began running to get home and some were not able to make it home and had to seek shelter wherever they could. The dust was so thick that people were getting lost and couldn’t find their way home. This storm was devastating and stripped many people of their possessions and what little crops they had growing.

Women during the Depression

The women during the depression suffered much but were a determined group. Their main job was to keep the family together while the men tried to support the family financially. Instead of focusing on careers and education, women focused on keeping their family together. Many schoolteachers worked for less pay in order to keep schools open. Many women, who did work, lost their jobs. Some of the women were forced to work in order to survive. Women lost jobs and remained unemployed at double the rate of men. Married women who worked were looked down on because they were viewed as taking away men’s jobs.
Most women during this time put off having children or had fewer children because survival was the main goal. Women got the least desirable jobs such as street cleaning and garbage collection.
As expansion of government services called for social workers, women who dominated the field of social work gained power in the new programs the government was forming.


Duststorm.jpgDust Storm


homlessfamily.jpgHomeless Family

wallstreetcollapse.jpgPeople flock to Wall Street after hearing about the collapse of the market.

migrantworkers.jpgMigrants looking for work.


Article information from the following internet sites.

1. **http://kclibrary.lonestar.edu/decade20.html**
2. **http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/dust_bowl**
3. **http://pbs.org/wbgh/amex/dustbowl/peopleevents.html**
4. **http://slideshare.net/adobbi/womens-changing-role-in-society-during-the-great-depression**