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The Great Depression


The Crash (Coronet, 1946 & Literary Digest Magazines 1929)

This is an article about the 1929 stock market crash - it was that one major cataclysmic event that ushered in the Great Depression (1929 - 1940). It all came crashing down on October 24, 1929 - the stocks offered at the New York Stock Exchange had lost 80% of their value; the day was immediately dubbed "Black Thursday" by all those who experienced it. When the sun rose that morning, the U.S. unemployment estimate stood at 3%; shortly afterward it soared to a staggering 24%.


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"In every town families had dropped from affluence into debt...Americans were soon to find themselves in an altered world which called for new adjustments, new ideas, new habits of thought, a new order of values. The Post-War Decade had come to its close. An era had ended." The era that followed was was the polar opposite of the one that had just gone down in flames: if the Twenties are remembered for confidence and prosperity, the Thirties was a decade of insecurity and want. The attached essay was penned by a popular author who knew the era well.

Yet, regardless of the horrors of The Crash, the United States was still an enormously wealthy nation...

 

The Increased Suicide Rate (Literary Digest, 1933)

With the arrival of the Great Depression came an increase in the American suicide rate. When this article appeared on the newsstands the Depression was just three and a half years old - with many more years yet to come. As the Americans saw 1932 come to a close, the records showed that 3,088 more acts of self-immolation had taken place than had been recorded the year before.

This article devoted very little column space to the growing number of global suicides, as the title indicates, but primarily concerns U.S. statistics, breaking down the figures by listing the cities with the higher suicide rates and what manner of adult was most likely to indulge.

Read about the the mood of the Great Depression and how it was reflected in the election of 1932 - click here...

 

Your Graduation Gift: Unemployment (New Outlook, 1933)

This is a graduation commencement speech that was written simply to appear on the printed page of a 1933 magazine - it was far too depressing to have ever been recited before an audience of eager-eared graduates and their doting relatives.

"You know, of course, that 'times are hard'... You know that less than ten percent of the post-graduate professional men from last year's class have found work. And you have heard from home. Allowances have been cut. Classmates have had to drop out of college. Old family friends have had grave misfortunes. Homes have been lost. You know all these things, but you can't realize them fully at this moment. You will, unfortunately, realize them only too well when you yourselves try to find a place in the world."

Watch "The Plow That Broke the Plains" (28 minutes)

 

The Temper of the Times (New Outlook Magazine, 1933)

Columnist George Sokolosky (1893 - 1962), writing from the road, reported that a general uneasiness had fallen across the land as a result of the economic stagnation:

"Wherever I go, I am told of how many families live on the city and country. In Williamsport, Pa., a delightfully intelligent young woman explained to me how this year was different from last in that many of those who contributed to charities are now, rather quietly, taking charity."

 

The Lot of Women in the Great Depression (New Outlook Magazine, 1934)

An editorial by two American feminists who insisted that the economic depression of the Thirties had knocked the wind right out of the Women's Movement. They argued that some of the high ground that was earned in the preceding decades had been lost and needed to be taken back; their points are backed up by figures from the U.S. Census Bureau as well as other agencies. Much column space is devoted to the employment discrimination practiced by both state and Federal governments in favor of single women at the expense of the married. It is grievously made clear that even the sainted FDR Administration was one of the cruel practitioners of wage inequality.

CLICK HERE to read about the pay disparity that existed between men and women during the 1930s.

A Video Clip About the Famous Picture

 

Food Riot (Pathfinder Magazine, 1931)

 


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