Category: great depression

Demonstration of Madame Helene Alberti’s flying contraption. February 17th, 1931.

Fun fact: Mme. Alberti was a Boston opera singer before she became convinced she’d discovered the secret to human-powered flight: the “Greek law of cosmic motion.”

Did you know that Christ the Redeemer, the iconic statue that looms over Rio de Janeiro, was finished in 1931? The 130-foot reinforced concrete-and-soapstone statue sits atop the peak of the 700-meter (2,300 ft) Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park.

The statue cost approximately US$250,000 to build. That’s 3.5 million in today’s dollars. It was built mainly on donations, too. So thank goodness the project was started in 1922, giving them plenty of time to raise donations before the Great Depression hit!

Employment office during Depression days. Men studying announcement of jobs, 1930s. Photo from Bettmann Archive.

34 found snaps defined street fashion during the Great Depression.

In 1936, Literary Digest magazine polled 10 million people using the telephone and its mailing list to try to predict the outcome of the United States presidential election, more people than in any previous presidential election survey. Their results indicated that Alf Landon, the Republican candidate, would defeat Franklin Roosevelt, the Democratic candidate, by a margin of 370 electoral votes to 161; however, in the election, Landon was trounced by Roosevelt by a margin of 523 electoral votes to 8, at the time the largest landslide in a contested presidential election.

Where did Literary Digest go wrong? Well, it was conducting its survey during the Great Depression, a time when telephones and magazine subscriptions (like the Literary Digest) were luxuries for many if not most Americans. Those who could afford such luxuries leaned Republican. But they made up a small proportion of the US population, which overall leaned Democrat.

Redlining" is when a bank refuses to give a mortgage, or a government refuses to back a mortgage, to someone because they live in an area deemed to be a poor financial risk. In the United States, this term came to be in the Great Depression when the US government took over responsibility of backing mortgages – but only in areas deemed sufficiently low-risk. In practice, “sufficiently low-risk” meant mostly-white or all-white neighborhoods.

Redlining was a tool of racial segregation and separation. If a family cannot purchase a home than that family cannot acquire capital on that capital to the next generation. The family’s money is spent on rent, the value of which disappears to the landlord, instead of a mortgage, the value of which stays with the family. Redlining hurts families for multiple generations.

Here is the map that delineated where mortgages would be given in Seattle, in Washington state. You can literally see the red areas in the map.

As you know, the Great Depression was a time of terrible unemployment across the United States and across the world. American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt started a wide variety of programs to attempt to alleviate the economic depression. One program created the “book women.”

Many rural communities at the time had little access to books. This of course meant they received a poorer education. With limited educations, economic opportunities were also limited. So the Works Progress Administration created the Pack Horse Library Initiative to bring the books to them. In the most remote areas, notably Kentucky, this meant librarians on horseback. Saddlebags would be filled with books, to be delivered to distribution stations, schools, and even front porches.

The horseback librarians were mostly made up of women whose salaries were paid by the Works Progress Administration. They were generally locals, so that people would trust them, and use the program. The Pack Horse Library Initiative stopped in 1943, because it was no longer needed: World War II basically ended rural unemployment.

The Evening News, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, March 23, 1937

The Graphic, England, January 25, 1930

Altoona Tribune, Pennsylvania, February 13, 1939