48e. Social and Cultural Effects of the Depression
Sports provided a distraction from the Depression. Shown is a ticker tape parade held in honor of the Detroit Tigers after winning the 1935 World Series.
No nation could emerge from the cauldron of national crisis without profound social and cultural changes. While many undesirable vices associated with hopelessness were on the rise, many family units were also strengthened through the crisis. Mass migrations reshaped the American mosaic. While many businesses perished during the Great Depression, others actually emerged stronger. And new forms of expression flourished in the culture of despair.
The Great Depression brought a rapid rise in the crime rate as many unemployed workers resorted to petty theft to put food on the table. Suicide rates rose, as did reported cases of malnutrition. Prostitution was on the rise as desperate women sought ways to pay the bills. Health care in general was not a priority for many Americans, as visiting the doctor was reserved for only the direst of circumstances. Alcoholism increased with Americans seeking outlets for escape, compounded by the repeal of prohibition in 1933. Cigar smoking became too expensive, so many Americans switched to cheaper cigarettes.
Higher education remained out of reach for most Americans as the nation's universities saw their student bodies shrink during the first half of the decade. High school attendance increased among males, however. Because the prospects of a young male getting a job were so incredibly dim, many decided to stay in school longer. However, public spending on education declined sharply, causing many schools to open understaffed or close due to lack of funds.
Demographic trends also changed sharply. Marriages were delayed as many males waited until they could provide for a family before proposing to a prospective spouse. Divorce rates dropped steadily in the 1930s. Rates of abandonment increased as many husbands chose the "poor man's divorce" option — they just ran away from their marriages. Birth rates fell sharply, especially during the lowest points of the Depression. More and more Americans learned about birth control to avoid the added expenses of unexpected children.
Mass migrations continued throughout the 1930s. Rural New England and upstate New York lost many citizens seeking opportunity elsewhere. The Great Plains lost population to states such as California and Arizona. The Dust Bowl sent thousands of "Okies" and "Arkies" looking to make a better life. Many of the migrants were adolescents seeking opportunity away from a family that had younger mouths to feed. Over 600,000 people were caught hitching rides on trains during the Great Depression. Many times offenders went unpunished.
Films like The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) entertained Americans by the thousands despite the hardships brought by the Great Depression.
Classic films like Frankenstein, It Happened One Night, and Gone with the Wind debuted during the Great Depression. Radio flourished as those who owned a radio set before the crash could listen for free. President Roosevelt made wide use of radio technology with his periodic "fireside chats" to keep the public informed. Dorothea Lange depicted the sadness of Depression farm life with her stirring photographs.And an apt musical form — the blues — gained popularity during the decade.
This essay claims there are some popular misconceptions about the Great Depression from an economic perspective. Its primary goal is to dispel the "myth" that the Depression occurred when free enterprise collapsed under its own weight. Keep in mind the source here — the Foundaton for Economic Freedom. It's a group with a somewhat dogmatic, though scholarly, approach to economics. Read the piece, explore the resources in the footnotes, and then begin to decide for yourself.
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The phrase "tramp art" may sound like sidewalk paintings and crude sketches. But the drawings, boxes and picture frames produced by "tramps" and "hobos" during the Depression became some of the most sought-after art from this era. This website presents essays on the history of "tramp art" along with several photo examples.
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This interactive website looks at America during the Depression through the radio, film, books, newspapers and architecture of the era. Heaps of pictures are included, along with helpful timelines for each individual section. Dozens of audio clips are archived here, including installments of Superman, Dick Tracy, and Buck Rogers. Turn on your speakers and enjoy!
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The Social Effects During The Great Depression
The social effects during the great depression.
In the early 1930's there was the great depression. This was caused when the market went into recession and did not recover causing the markets to crash and people lost all of their money. The great depression effected all of the people in many ways, one of the ways was socially. Firstly: The most effected people were the working class. Secondly: The class which was effected a little was the middle class. Finally: The class which was hardly effected was the upper class.
Firstly: The most effected people were the working class. They were effected because they had unstable and low paying jobs so they did not get much money so if problem came along they could not do much. Also many working class people lost their homes and were forced to live on the streets or under bridges and they had no use to get up in the morning because they knew there was no chance of getting a job. Living standards were dropped dramatically because the people had no money to buy new clothes or sheets to sleep on and everything became flea ridden. Also many people had no food, so they had to line up outside the Salvation Army's kitchen to get some warm soup. There were around 30, 000 unemployed people at that time in all of Australia. There were lots of family hardships and people arguing with each other. There was also a big risk of an epidemic breaking out as all of the people were living together in one place. So the working class was effected the most and all...
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