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What is your method of escape? What do you turn to when frustrated, scared, upset, or overwhelmed?. Bell Ringer. Making the Best of a Very Bad Situation. Surviving the Great Depression. Meeting Basic Needs During the Depression. Give us this day our daily bread.

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blame it on hoover

President Hoover attempted to fix the problems of unemployment and poverty, but it was too little, too late.

Thousands of people lost their homes, and took to building shacks out of scrap material in public spaces

Americans blamed the President for the downfall and renamed their makeshift homes after him - Hoovervilles

Blame it on Hoover

A man selling apples

Dresses made from old flour sacks

america s homeless

Many of America’s homeless began to wander the country in search of work, walking, hitchhiking, or “riding the rails”

Known as hobos, they camped in “hobo jungles” near rail yards, and survived through a secret language that they inscribed on light poles, fence posts, walls, and in dirt patches.

250,000 of these hobos were teenage boys

America’s Homeless

There were hundreds of symbols, as well as a code of ethics

  • When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
  • Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
  • Respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as bad, if not worse than you.
  • When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.
  • Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
  • Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.
brother can you spare a dime

They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob, When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job. They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead, Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time. Once I built a railroad; now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime? Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime; Once I built a tower, now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell, Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum, Half a million boots went slogging through Hell, And I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time. Why don't you remember, I'm your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell, Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum, Half a million boots went slogging through Hell, And I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time. Say, don't you remember, I'm your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

Although the economic crisis dominated the news during the 1930s, other events and people drew the attention of the masses, especially those that drew their attention away from their own financial troubles.

    • Gandhi’s Salt March
    • Pluto discovered
    • Completion of the Empire

State Building

    • Lindbergh baby kidnapping
    • Scientists split the atom
    • Berlin Olympics
    • Spanish Civil War
    • Amelia Earhart’s fateful flight
    • The Hindenburg explosion
art and literature
Art and Literature




Western music gained popularity, as it was a familiar and comforting sound.

  • The Grand Ole’ Opry became one of the most popular radio programs on the air, with performances by musicians and comedians, and short skits.
    • Gene Autry
    • Roy Rogers
    • Jimmie Rogers

Jazz and Blues music continued in popularity from the 1920s, but the style began to shift, from Dixieland Jazz to Swing.

    • Billie Holiday
    • Ella Fitzgerald
    • Benny Goodman
    • Glenn Miller
    • Count Basie
    • Duke Ellington
    • Louis Armstrong

Popular dances: The Foxtrot, Swing (Lindy Hop, Balboa, East/West Coast Swing), and Jitterbug

  • Dance Marathons were incredibly popular
    • Pairs were required to remain in motion for 45 minutes each hour, around the clock.
    • Contestants could win hundreds of dollars by outlasting the other couples
    • A 25-cent admission price entitled audience members to watch as long as they pleased

The radio was the most popular form of entertainment, with news, sports, music, and theatrical programs.

    • Cheap
    • Entertaining
    • Family-oriented
  • Popular programs: Grand Ole’ Opry, Red Ryder, Little Orphan Annie, “Soap Operas,” Marx Bros., Abbot and Costello, the Lone Ranger, Dick Tracy, George Burns and Gracie Allen

Orson Welles produced a radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds for Halloween in 1938.

The broadcast was presented in the form of a series of “news bulletins” about an alien invasion on Earth and the near destruction of mankind.

Many Americans believed the broadcast to be real, and panicked over the supposed invasion.


The movies were a great escape for Americans during the Depression.

    • Cheap (15¢ – 25¢) and air-conditioned
    • Not just a movie: double-feature, newsreels, cartoons, live orchestras, comic emcees
dealing with mistakes of the past

Since the Homestead Act of 1862, famers of the Plains had fought against nature – droughts, infestations, wildfires, etc.

They had planted seas of wheat using dry farming techniques that were meant to help deal with the lack of moisture. It actually sucked the top layer of soil dry and left it a fine layer of dust.

A severe drought that began in 1932 left neither grass nor wheat to hold the rainfall, and left the dust to blow across the plains.

Dealing with mistakes of the past

The Dust Bowl covered the states of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas, with winds blowing the dust as far as Washington D.C.

  • Massive dust storms choked the remaining vegetation and blocked out the sun.
  • Storms could dump as much as four feet of dust in a matter of hours

The Dust Bowl

black sunday

April 14, 1935 – A “black blizzard” hit Oklahoma and Texas displacing 300 million tons of topsoil from the surrounding prairie.

The storm blotted out the sun and left visibility to about a meter.

Black Sunday
leaving the dust bowl

With their land barren and homes seized in foreclosure, many farm families were forced to leave

Thousands of people migrated to the rich farmlands of California

Although they came from various states, these migrants were disparagingly called “Okies”

Leaving the Dust Bowl

Faces of the

Okie Migration

faces of the okie migration

Dorothea Lange – an influential photographer who captured the desperation of the Great Depression and the plight of Dust Bowl migrants.

Migrant Mother (1936) - "Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California.“

These photographs put a face to the impoverished migrant farm workers escaping the Dust Bowl, encouraging FDR to focus more relief efforts on those affected by the natural disaster.

Faces of the Okie Migration
effects of the great depression and the okie migration

California’s Anti-Okie Law

  • John Steinbeck – His books were greatly influenced by the Depression, as well as the migration of the Plains farmers
    • Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath
  • Folk singer Woody Guthrie gained fame with songs about the plight of Dust Bowl refugees – Ain’t Got No Home, Hobo’s Lullaby, This Land Is Your Land
Effects of the Great Depression and the Okie migration