In the 1930s African Americans faced three distinct historical crises that impacted the lives of African Americans directly—the Great Depression, the existential-identity crisis, and the Italo-Ethiopian War, with its threat of a race war. A sizeable body of black poetry was produced in this decade, which captured the new modes of autonomy through which black Americans resisted these social calamities. Much of it, however, including the most influential protest poems, was dismissed as “romantic” by major, leftist critics and anthologists.
Anthems, Sonnets, and Chants: Recovering the African American Poetry of the 1930s, by Jon Woodson, uses social philology to unveil social discourse, self fashioning, and debates in poems gathered from anthologies, magazines, newspapers, and individual collections. The first chapter examines three long poems, finding overarching jeremiadic discourse that inaugurated a militant, politically aware agent. Chapter two examines self-fashioning in the numerous sonnets that responded to the new media of radio, newsreels, movies, and photo-magazines. The third chapter shows how new subjectivities were generated by poetry addressed to the threat of race war in which the white race was exterminated.
The black intellectuals who dominated the interpretative discourses of the 1930s fostered exteriority, while black culture as a whole plunged into interiority. Anthems, Sonnets, and Chants delineates the struggle between these inner and outer worlds, a study made difficult by a contemporary intellectual culture which recoils from a belief in a consistent, integrated self.
In this paperback edition of An Appalachian New Deal: West Virginia in the Great Depression, Jerry Bruce Thomas examines the economic and social conditions of the state of West Virginia before, during, and after the Great Depression. Thomas’s exploration of personal papers by leading political and social figures, newspapers, and the published and unpublished records of federal, state, local, and private agencies, traces a region’s response to an economic depression and a presidential stimulus program. This dissection of federal and state policies implemented under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program reveals the impact of poverty upon political, gender, race, and familial relations within the Mountain State—and the entire country. Through An Appalachian New Deal, Thomas documents the stories of ordinary citizens who survived a period of economic crisis and echoes a message from our nation’s past to a new generation enduring financial hardship and uncertainty.
Historians of colonial Africa have largely regarded the decade of the Great Depression as a period of intense exploitation and colonial inactivity. In Colonial Meltdown, Moses E. Ochonu challenges this conventional interpretation by mapping the determined, at times violent, yet instructive responses of Northern Nigeria’s chiefs, farmers, laborers, artisans, women, traders, and embryonic elites to the British colonial mismanagement of the Great Depression. Colonial Meltdown explores the unraveling of British colonial power at a moment of global economic crisis.
Ochonu shows that the economic downturn made colonial exploitation all but impossible and that this dearth of profits and surpluses frustrated the colonial administration which then authorized a brutal regime of grassroots exactions and invasive intrusions. The outcomes were as harsh for Northern Nigerians as those of colonial exploitation in boom years.
Northern Nigerians confronted colonial economic recovery measures and their agents with a variety of strategies. ColonialMeltdown analyzes how farmers, women, laborers, laid-off tin miners, and Northern Nigeria’s emergent elite challenged and rebelled against colonial economic recovery schemes with evasive trickery, defiance, strategic acts of revenge, and criminal self-help and, in the process, exposed the weak underbelly of the colonial system.
Combined with the economic and political paralysis of colonial bureaucrats in the face of crisis, these African responses underlined the fundamental weakness of the colonial state, the brittleness of its economic mission, and the limits of colonial coercion and violence. This atmosphere of colonial collapse emboldened critics of colonial policies who went on to craft the rhetorical terms on which the anticolonial struggle of the post–World War II period was fought out.
In the current climate of global economic anxieties, Ochonu’s analysis will enrich discussions on the transnational ramifications of economic downturns. It will also challenge the pervasive narrative of imperial economic success.
No socialist organization has ever had a more profound effect on black life than the Communist Party did in Harlem during the Depression. Mark Naison describes how the party won the early endorsement of such people as Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and how its support of racial equality and integration impressed black intellectuals, including Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and Paul Robeson.
This meticulously researched work, largely based on primary materials and interviews with leading black Communists from the 1930s, is the first to fully explore this provocative encounter between whites and blacks. It provides a detailed look at an exciting period of reform, as well as an intimate portrait of Harlem in the 1920s and 30s, at the high point of its influence and pride.
Daring to Look presents never-before-published photos and captions from Dorothea Lange’s fieldwork in California, the Pacific Northwest, and North Carolina during 1939. Lange’s images of squatter camps, benighted farmers, and stark landscapes are stunning, and her captions—which range from simple explanations of settings to historical notes and biographical sketches—add unexpected depth, bringing her subjects and their struggles unforgettably to life, often in their own words.
When Lange was dismissed from the Farm Security Administration at the end of 1939, these photos and field notes were consigned to archives, where they languished, rarely seen. With Daring to Look, Anne Whiston Spirn not only returns them to the public eye, but sets them in the context of Lange’s pioneering life, work, and struggle for critical recognition—firmly placing Lange in her rightful position at the forefront of American photography.
“[A] thoughtful and meticulously researched account of Lange’s career. . . . Spirn, a photographer herself, traces Lange’s path, visiting her locations and subjects in a fascinating series of ‘then and now’ shots.”—Publishers Weekly
“Dorothea Lange has long been regarded as one of the most brilliant photographic witnesses we have ever had to the peoples and landscapes of America, but until now no one has fully appreciated the richness with which she wove images together with words to convey her insights about this nation. We are lucky indeed that Anne Whiston Spirn, herself a gifted photographer and writer, has now recovered Lange’s field notes and woven them into a rich tapestry of texts and images to help us reflect anew on Lange’s extraordinary body of work.”—William Cronon, author of Nature’s Metropolis
In contemporary American political discourse, issues related to the scope, authority, and the cost of the federal government are perennially at the center of discussion. Any historical analysis of this topic points directly to the Great Depression, the "moment" to which most historians and economists connect the origins of the fiscal, monetary, and social policies that have characterized American government in the second half of the twentieth century. In the most comprehensive collection of essays available on these topics, The Defining Moment poses the question directly: to what extent, if any, was the Depression a watershed period in the history of the American economy? This volume organizes twelve scholars' responses into four categories: fiscal and monetary policies, the economic expansion of government, the innovation and extension of social programs, and the changing international economy. The central focus across the chapters is the well-known alternations to national government during the 1930s. The Defining Moment attempts to evaluate the significance of the past half-century to the American economy, while not omitting reference to the 1930s.
The essays consider whether New Deal-style legislation continues to operate today as originally envisioned, whether it altered government and the economy as substantially as did policies inaugurated during World War II, the 1950s, and the 1960s, and whether the legislation had important precedents before the Depression, specifically during World War I. Some chapters find that, surprisingly, in certain areas such as labor organization, the 1930s responses to the Depression contributed less to lasting change in the economy than a traditional view of the time would suggest. On the whole, however, these essays offer testimony to the Depression's legacy as a "defining moment." The large role of today's government and its methods of intervention—from the pursuit of a more active monetary policy to the maintenance and extension of a wide range of insurance for labor and business—derive from the crisis years of the 1930s.
To many rural Iowans, the stock market crash on New York’s Wall Street in October 1929 seemed an event far removed from their lives, even though the effects of the crash became all too real throughout the state. From 1929 to 1933, the enthusiastic faith that most Iowans had in Iowan President Herbert Hoover was transformed into bitter disappointment with the federal government. As a result, Iowans directly questioned their leadership at the state, county, and community levels with a renewed spirit to salvage family farms, demonstrating the uniqueness of Iowa’s rural life.
Beginning with an overview of the state during 1929, Lisa L. Ossian describes Iowa’s particular rural dilemmas, evoking, through anecdotes and examples, the economic, nutritional, familial, cultural, industrial, criminal, legal, and political challenges that engaged the people of the state. The following chapters analyze life during the early Depression: new prescriptions for children’s health, creative housekeeping to stretch resources, the use of farm “playlets” to communicate new information creatively and memorably, the demise of the soft coal mining industry, increased violence within the landscape, and the movement to end Prohibition.
The challenges faced in the early Great Depression years between 1929 and 1933 encouraged resourcefulness rather than passivity, creativity rather than resignation, and community rather than hopelessness. Of particular interest is the role of women within the rural landscape, as much of the increased daily work fell to farm women during this time. While the women addressed this work simply as “making do,” Ossian shows that their resourcefulness entailed complex planning essential for families’ emotional and physical health.
Ossian’s epilogue takes readers into the Iowa of today, dominated by industrial agriculture, and asks the reader to consider if this model that stemmed from Depression-era innovation is sustainable. Her rich rural history not only helps readers understand the particular forces at work that shaped the social and physical landscape of the past but also traces how these landscapes have continued in various forms for almost eighty years into this century.
Mountain lion barbacoa. Margarita's yam soufflé. Pastel de Choclo, a.k.a. Rodeo Pie. And for dessert, perhaps, Miss Ruby Cupcakes. These are but a few of the gustatory memories of John Weston that waft us on a poignant journey into the past in the company of a gifted writer and unabashed bon vivant.
The place is Skull Valley in central Arizona, the time the 1930s. Taking food as his theme, Weston paints an instructive and often hilarious portrait of growing up, of rural family life under difficult circumstances, and of a remote Arizona community trying to hold body and soul together during tough times. His book recalls life in a lineman's shack, interlaced with "disquisitions on swamp life, rotting water, and the complex experience of finding enough to eat during the Great Depression."
Central to Weston's account is his mother Eloine, a valiant woman rearing a large brood in poverty with little help from her husband. Eloine cooks remarkably well—master of a small repertory from which she coaxes ideas surprising even to herself—and feeds her family on next to nothing. She is a woman whose first instinct is to cry out "Lord, what am I going to feed them" whenever visitors show up close to mealtime. Recalls Weston, "Her strength lay in a practical- and poverty-born sense that there must be more edible food in the world than most people realized," and he swears that six out of seven meals were from parts of four or five previous meals coming round again, like the buckets on a Ferris wheel.
Although Weston evokes a fond remembrance of a bygone era that moves from Depression-era Skull Valley to wartime Prescott, rest assured: food—its acquisition, its preparation, its wholehearted enjoyment—is the foundation of this book. "I did not have a deprived childhood, despite its slim pickings," writes Weston. "If I recall a boiling pig's head now and then, it is not to be read as some Jungian blip from Lord of the Flies but simply a recurring flicker of food-memory." Whether remembering his father's occasional deer poaching or his community's annual Goat Picnic, Weston laces his stories with actual recipes—even augmenting his instructions for roasted wild venison with tips for preparing jerky.
Dining at the Lineman's Shack teems with sparkling allusions, both literary and culinary, informed by Weston's lifetime of travels. Even his nagging memory of desperate boyhood efforts to trade his daily peanut-butter sandwich for bacon-and-egg, baloney, jelly, or most anything else is tempered by his acquaintance with "the insidious sa-teh sauce in Keo Sananikone's hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Kapahulu Street"—a peanut-butter-based delicacy for which he obligingly provides the ingredients (and which he promises will keep, refrigerated in a jar, for several weeks before baroque things begin to grow on it).
Through this tantalizing smorgasbord of memories, stories, and recipes, John Weston has fashioned a wholly captivating commentary on American culture, both in an earlier time and in our own. Dining at the Lineman's Shack is a book that will satisfy any reader's hunger for the unusual—and a book to savor, in every sense of the word.
Mucking around in the messy terrain of American trash, Jani Scandura tells the story of the United States during the Great Depression through evocative and photo-rich portraits of four locales: Reno, Key West, Harlem, and Hollywood. In investigating these Depression-era “dumps,” places that she claims contained and reclaimed the cultural, ideological, and material refuse of modern America, Scandura introduces the concept of “depressive modernity,” an enduring affective component of American culture that exposes itself at those moments when the foundational myths of America and progressive modernity—capitalism, democracy, individualism, secularism, utopian aspiration—are thrown into question. Depressive modernity is modernity at a standstill. Such a modernity is not stagnant or fixed, nor immobile, but is constituted by an instantaneous unstaging of desire, territory, language, and memory that reveals itself in the shimmering of place.
An interpretive bricolage that draws on an unlikely archive of 1930s detritus—office memos, scribbled manuscripts, scrapbooks, ruined photographs, newspaper clippings, glass eyes, incinerated stage sets, pulp novels, and junk washed ashore—Down in the Dumps escorts its readers through Reno’s divorce factory of the 1930s, where couples from across the United States came to quickly dissolve matrimonial bonds; Key West’s multilingual salvage economy and its status as the island that became the center of an ideological tug-of-war between the American New Deal government and a politically fraught Caribbean; post-Renaissance Harlem, in the process of memorializing, remembering, grieving, and rewriting a modernity that had already passed; and Studio-era Hollywood, Nathanael West’s “dump of dreams,” in which the introduction of sound in film and shifts in art direction began to transform how Americans understood place-making and even being itself. A coda on Alcatraz and the Pentagon brings the book into the present, exploring how American Depression comes to bear on post-9/11 America.
Whether romantic or tragic, accounts of the dramatic events surrounding the North American Dust Bowl of the “dirty thirties” unearthed anxieties buried deep in America's ecological imagination. Moreover, the images of a landscape of fear remain embedded in the national consciousness today. In vivid form, the aesthetic of suffering captured in Dorothea Lange's photographs and Woody Guthrie's folk songs created the myths and memories of the Depression generation.
Dust Bowl, USA is a critical examination of the stories that grew out of the Dust Bowl experience. Across the nation, newspapers, magazines, books, films, and songs produced imagery of blight for local and mass audiences. As new technology, irrigation innovations, and conservation programs were introduced on a wide scale during the 1930s, the saga of the frontier continued to unfold through accounts of dust, drought, and desertification.
In piercing the myths brought forth in legends, lore, allegories, and anecdotes, Brad Lookingbill provides a revelatory insight into the history of the cultural narratives that have come to define an era.
The End of Globalization
Harold JAMES Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress HF1359.J36 2001 | Dewey Decimal 337
"Globalization" is here. Signified by an increasingly close economic interconnection that has led to profound political and social change around the world, the process seems irreversible. In this book, however, Harold James provides a sobering historical perspective, exploring the circumstances in which the globally integrated world of an earlier era broke down under the pressure of unexpected events.
James examines one of the great historical nightmares of the twentieth century: the collapse of globalism in the Great Depression. Analyzing this collapse in terms of three main components of global economics--capital flows, trade, and international migration--James argues that it was not simply a consequence of the strains of World War I but resulted from the interplay of resentments against all these elements of mobility, as well as from the policies and institutions designed to assuage the threats of globalism. Could it happen again? There are significant parallels today: highly integrated systems are inherently vulnerable to collapse, and world financial markets are vulnerable and unstable. While James does not foresee another Great Depression, his book provides a cautionary tale in which institutions meant to save the world from the consequences of globalization--think WTO and IMF, in our own time--ended by destroying both prosperity and peace.
Farm Girl: A Wisconsin Memoir
Beuna Coburn Carlson University of Wisconsin Press, 2020 Library of Congress F587.P6C37 2020 | Dewey Decimal 977.542042092
When Bunny Coburn was growing up, neighbors came together in times of hardship. No matter the trouble, they faced it with determination, camaraderie, and resourcefulness. In the midst of the Great Depression, despite record-breaking heat and crop failure, growing up on the family farm was nevertheless filled with bucolic pleasures. Farm Girl is Beuna "Bunny" Coburn Carlson's loving tribute to the gently rolling hills of western Wisconsin. With an inviting and fluid voice, she shares intimate moments of happinesses from her childhood: collecting butternuts for homemade maple candy, watching her father read by the flickering light of a kerosene lamp, and the joy of finding a juicy orange at the bottom of a Christmas stocking. Underlying each vignette is the courage of a strong family surviving adversity and finding comfort in one another. Hers is a memoir that readers can dip in and out of with pleasure.
The GI Bill Boys: A Memoir
Stella, Suberman University of Tennessee Press, 2012 Library of Congress E806.S86 2012 | Dewey Decimal 973.91
In her warm and witty new memoir, Stella Suberman charms readers with her personal perspective as she recalls the original 1940s GI Bill. As she writes of the bill and the epic events that spawned it, she manages, in her crisp way, to personalize and humanizes them in order to entertain and to educate. Although her story is in essence that of two Jewish families, it echoes the story of thousands of Americans of that period.
Her narrative begins with her Southern family and her future husband’s Northern one – she designates herself and her husband as “Depression kids” – as they struggle through the Great Depression. In her characteristically lively style, she recounts the major happenings of the era: the Bonus March of World War I veterans; the attack on Pearl Harbor; the Roosevelt/New Deal years; the rise of Hitler’s Nazi party and the Holocaust; the second World War; and the post-war period when veterans returned home to a collapsed and jobless economy. She then takes the reader to the moment when the GI Bill appeared, the glorious moment, as she writes, when returning veterans realized they had been given a future.
As her husband begins work on his Ph.D., she focuses on the GI men and their wives as college life consumed them. It is the time also of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the “Red Scare,” of the creation of an Israeli state, of the Korean War, and of other important issues, and she discusses them forthrightly. Throughout this section she writes of how the GI’s doggedly studied, engaged in critical thinking (perhaps for the first time), discovered their voices. As she suggests, it was not the 1930’s anymore, and the GI Bill boys were poised to give America an authentic and robust middle class.
Stella Suberman is the author of two popular and well-reviewed titles: The Jew Store and When It Was OurWar. In its starred review, Booklist called The Jew Store “an absolute pleasure,” and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote that it was “valuable history as well as a moving story.” When It Was Our War received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and in another starred review, Kirkus Reviews described it as “Engaging . . . A remarkable story that resonates with intelligence and insight.” Mrs. Suberman lives with her husband, Jack, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Many have never heard of Governor Henry Horner of Illinois, yet his story is remarkable. Governor Henry Horner, Chicago Politics, and the Great Depression focuses on Horner’s career in law and politics from 1915 to 1940, while examining the economic and political dynamics of Illinois during the darkest period in American history. This principled governor managed to maintain his political integrity in a climate where honesty was a liability, says author Charles J. Masters, but the few historians who include Horner in their narratives offer contradictory and dismissive characterizations of him. Masters corrects the public record and reintroduces Horner to political lore as a man who brazenly fought both the Chicago Democratic machine that worked to plot his downfall and Roosevelt’s White House to steadfastly do right by the people of Illinois.
In this first book-length treatment of Horner in over thirty-five years, Masters traces the politician’s career, the history and politics of Chicago, and the effects of the Great Depression in Illinois. The volume details Horner’s life as a lawyer, probate judge, and two-term Democratic governor of Illinois. Horner’s relationships with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and such political players as Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna, “Bathhouse” John Coughlin, and Chicago mayors Carter Harrison, Anton Cermak, and Ed Kelly are set against a backdrop of assassination, political sniping, court-packing schemes, Prohibition, and the New Deal.
Governor Henry Horner, Chicago Politics, and the Great Depression examines the governor’s management of the political and economic challenges of the state when millions of Americans were jobless, homeless, and hungry. The severely divergent economic and political positions of the state’s northern industrial and southern agrarian interests made the period even darker. Masters shows how Horner stemmed foreclosures, dealt with bank closings, placated unpaid teachers, soothed massive labor unrest, fed the hungry, and confronted the ever-present threat of revolution. While Hitler’s Germany was spreading Nazism throughout Europe, some Americans were questioning the fundamental order of their own political system, suggesting that socialism, communism, or Nazism could offer a better way. Masters addresses how Horner, Illinois’ first Jewish governor, dealt with these challenges to the U.S. political system.
A story long absent from the historical record, GovernorHenry Horner, Chicago Politics, and the Great Depression offers a portrait of the man, his style of governance, his successes, and his failures. The volume, with eight illustrations, effectively reevaluates Horner’s historical reputation and role in Illinois politics in the midst of the worst economic depression in our nation’s history.
The Great Depression was the worst economic catastrophe in modern history. Not only did it cause massive worldwide unemployment, but it also led to the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany, World War II in Europe, and the tragic deaths of tens of millions of people. This book describes the sequence of policy errors committed by powerful, well-meaning people in several countries, which, in combination with the gold standard in place at the time, caused the disaster. In addition, it details attempts to reduce unemployment in the United States by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, and in Germany by Hitler's National Socialist economic policies.
A comprehensive economic and historical explanation of the events pertaining to the Depression, this book begins by describing the economic setting in the major industrialized countries during the 1920s and the gold standard that linked theory economies together. It then discusses the triggering event that started the economic decline--the Federal Reserve's credit tightening in reaction to perceived overspeculation in the U.S. stock market. The policy bungling that transformed the recession into the Great Depression is detailed: Smoot Hawley, the Federal Reserve's disastrous adherence to the real bills doctrine, and Hoover's 1932 tax hike. This is followed by a detailed description of the New Deal's shortcomings in trying to end the Depression, along with a discussion of the National Socialist economic programs in Germany. Finally, the factors that ended the Depression are examined.
This book will appeal to economists, historians, and those interested in business conditions who would like to know more about the causes and consequences of the Great Depression. It will be particularly useful as a supplementary text in economic history courses.
Thomas E. Hall and J. David Ferguson are both Professors of Economics, Miami University.
Although Latin America weathered the Great Depression better than the United States and Europe, the global economic collapse of the 1930s had a deep and lasting impact on the region. The contributors to this book examine the consequences of the Depression in terms of the role of the state, party-political competition, and the formation of working-class and other social and political movements. Going beyond economic history, they chart the repercussions and policy responses in different countries while noting common cross-regional trends--in particular, a mounting critique of economic orthodoxy and greater state intervention in the economic, social, and cultural spheres, both trends crucial to the region's subsequent development. The book also examines how regional transformations interacted with and differed from global processes. Taken together, these essays deepen our understanding of the Great Depression as a formative experience in Latin America and provide a timely comparative perspective on the recent global economic crisis.
Contributors. Marcelo Bucheli, Carlos Contreras, Paulo Drinot, Jeffrey L. Gould, Roy Hora, Alan Knight, Gillian McGillivray, Luis Felipe Sáenz, Angela Vergara, Joel Wolfe, Doug Yarrington
In Growing Up in a Land Called Egypt: A Southern Illinois Family Biography,author Cleo Caraway fondly recalls how she and her siblings came of age on the family farm in the 1930s and 1940s. Like many others, the Caraways were affected by the economic hardships of the Great Depression, but Cleo’s parents strived to shelter her and her six siblings from the dire circumstances affecting the nation and their home and allowed them to bask in their idealistic existence. Her love for her family clearly shines from every page as she writes of a simpler time, before World War II divided the family.
Caraway revels in the life her family lived on a southern Illinois hilltop in Murphysboro township, marveling at the mix of commonplace and adventure she experienced in her childhood. She remembers her first day of school, walking three miles to the wondrous one-room building with her siblings; reminisces about strolling through the countryside with her mother, investigating the various plants and flowers, fruits and nuts; and recollects her fascination with the Indian relics she found buried near her home, a hobby she shared with her father. She also writes of seeing Gone with the Wind on the big screen at the Hippodrome in Murphysboro, of learning to sew dresses for her dolls, and of idyllic life on the farm—milking cows, hatching chicks, feeding pigs. Along with her personal memories Caraway includes interviews with neighbors and many fascinating photographs with detailed captions that make the images come alive.
A delightful follow-up to her father’s popular Foothold on a Hillside: Memories of a Southern Illinoisan,Caraway’s book is a pleasant change from the typical accounts of southern Illinois before, during, and after the Great Depression. Instead of hardscrabble grit, Growing Up in a Land Called Egypt offers a refreshingly different view of the period and is certain to be embraced by southern Illinois natives as well as anyone interested in the experiences of a rural family that thrived despite the difficult times. The author’s lighthearted prose, self-deprecating humor, and genuine affection for her family make reading this book a rich and memorable experience.
In this nuanced revisionist history of modern American poetry, John Lowney investigates the Depression era’s impact on late modernist American poetry from the socioeconomic crisis of the 1930s through the emergence of the new social movements of the 1960s. Informed by an ongoing scholarly reconsideration of 1930s American culture and concentrating on Left writers whose historical consciousness was profoundly shaped by the Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, Lowney articulates the Left’s challenges to national collective memory and redefines the importance of late modernism in American literary history. The late modernist writers Lowney studies most closely---Muriel Rukeyser, Elizabeth Bishop, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Thomas McGrath, and George Oppen---are not all customarily associated with the 1930s, nor are they commonly seen as literary peers. By examining these late modernist writers comparatively, Lowney foregrounds differences of gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, and social class and region while emphasizing how each writer developed poetic forms that responded to the cultural politics and socioaesthetic debates of the 1930s. In so doing he calls into question the boundaries that have limited the scholarly dialogue about modern poetry.No other study of American poetry has considered the particular gathering of careers that Lowney considers. As poets whose collective historical consciousness was profoundly shaped by the turmoil of the Depression and war years and the Cold War’s repression or rewriting of history, their diverse talents represent a distinct generational impact on U.S. and international literary history.
Mexican communities in the United States faced more than unemployment during the Great Depression. Discrimination against Mexican nationals and similar prejudices against Mexican Americans led the communities to seek help from Mexican consulates, which in most cases rose to their defense.
Los Angeles’s consulate was confronted with the country’s largest concentration of Mexican Americans, for whom the consuls often assumed a position of community leadership. Whether helping the unemployed secure repatriation and relief or intervening in labor disputes, consuls uniquely adapted their roles in international diplomacy to the demands of local affairs.
No part of the United States escaped the ravages of the Great Depression, but some coped with it better than others. This book examines New Deal relief programs in Kansas throughout the Depression, focusing on the relationship between the state and the federal government to show how their successful operation depended on the effectiveness of that partnership.
Ranging widely over all of Kansas’s 105 counties, Peter Fearon provides a detailed analysis of the key relief programs for both urban and rural areas and shows that the state’s Republican administration—led by FDR’s later presidential opponent Governor Alf Landon—effectively ran New Deal welfare policies. As early as 1933, federal officials reported the Kansas central relief administration to be one of the most efficient in the country, and funding for farm policies was generous enough to keep many Kansas farm families off the relief rolls. Indeed, historically high levels of social spending ensured that New Deal initiatives were radical for their day, but Fearon shows that, especially in Kansas, fears of the debilitating effects of the dole and the insistence on means testing and work relief served as conservative balances to the threat of a dependency culture.
Drawing on extensive research at the county level, Fearon examines relief problems from the perspective of recipients, social workers, and poor commissioners, all of whom had to cope with inadequate and fluctuating funding. He plumbs the sometimes volatile relationships between social workers and their clients to illustrate the formidable difficulties faced by the former and explain reasons for—and effects of—strikes and riots by the latter. He also investigates the operation of work relief, considers the treatment of women and blacks in the distribution of welfare resources, and assesses the effects of the WPA on employment—showing that the majority of those eligible were unable to secure positions and were forced to fall back on county relief.
Kansas in the Great Depression is an insightful look at how federal, state, and local authorities worked together to deal with a national emergency, revealing the complexities of policy initiatives not generally brought to light in studies at the national level while establishing important links between pre-Roosevelt policies and the New Deal. It reaffirms the virtues of government programs run by dedicated public officials as it opens a new window on Americans helping Americans in their darkest hours.
This collection captures the sense—at times the ordeal—of the 1930s literary experience in America. Fourteen essayists deal with the experience of being a writer in a time of overwhelming economic depression and political ferment, and thereby illuminate the social, political, intellectual, and aesthetic problems and pressures that characterized the experience of American writers and influenced their works.
The essays, as a group, constitute a reevaluation of the American literature of the 1930s. At the same time they support and reinforce certain assumptions about the decade of the Great Depression—that it was grim, desperate, a time when dreams died and poverty became something other than genteel—they challenge other assumptions, chief among them in the notion that 1930s literature was uniform in content, drab in style, anti-formalist, and always political or sociological in nature. They leave us with an impression that there was variety in American writing of the 1930s and a convincing argument that the decade was not a retreat from the modernism of the 1920s. Rather it was a transitional period in which literary modernism was very much an issue and a force that bore imaginative fruit.
History books provide the statistics and the “big picture” of the Great Depression, but what did any of that mean for a family just trying to make it through those years? A. Cleveland Harrison’s A Little Rock Boyhood provides that viewpoint in this evocative memoir as he captures what Little Rock was like for him as a child in the 1930s. The Harrison family’s experiences and those of their extended family and neighbors bring the tough economic times down to the individual level. The youngest Harrison is an able reporter, relating the memories of an observant though naive child. All was not grim, though, if you were a kid, and Harrison describes those happy times. He remembers his life in the residential neighborhoods of downtown Little Rock when a child could grow up in difficult times without becoming difficult. This book is an insightful look back at a time, a place, and a childhood.
In Negotiating Relief, Susan Stein-Roggenbuck examines Michigan’s implementation of the New Deal relief programs and the state’s reorganization of welfare in 1939. Local officials, social workers, and recipients were key players in the Michigan debates over how best to administer relief. The book sheds important light on the profession of social work and public welfare, and the development of nonfederal relief at the state and local levels after 1935.
Guided by fiscal localism and a firm belief in home rule, local officials fought to retain control of relief. Stein-Roggenbuck argues that while significant changes occurred in welfare policy as a result of the New Deal, many continuities remained. Among those was the responsibility of families to provide financial support. Often forgotten were those on general relief—individuals who did not fit the federal programs such as Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) and Old Age Assistance (OAA). General relief became a third track of welfare.
Drawing on newspaper records, county and city board minutes, social welfare agency records, federal records, and case file records, Negotiating Relief gives voice to the numerous groups involved in welfare debates, particularly the recipients of relief. This book adds to our understanding of the local implementation of welfare policy in both rural and urban areas.
Told from the point of view of a young boy, this account shows how a family “faced the 1930s head on and lived to tell the story.” It is the story of growing up in southern Illinois, specifically the Marion, area during the Great Depression. But when it was first published in 1972 the book proved to be more than one writer’s memories of depression-era southern Illinois.
“People started writing me from all over the country,” Hastings notes. “And all said much the same: ‘You were writing about my family, as much as your own. That’s how I remember the 1930s, too.’”
As he proves time and again in this book, Hastings is a natural storyteller who can touch upon the detail that makes the tale both poignant and universal. He brings to life a period that marked every man, woman, and child who lived through it even as that national experience fades into the past.
The Cleveland Indians of 1928 were a far cry from the championship team of 1920. They had begun the decade as the best team in all of baseball, but over the following eight years, their owner died, the great Tris Speaker retired in the face of a looming scandal, and the franchise was in terrible shape. Seeing opportunity in the upheaval, Cleveland real estate mogul Alva Bradley purchased the ball club in 1927, infused it with cash, and filled its roster with star players such as Bob Feller, Earl Averill, and Hal Trosky. He aligned himself with civic leaders to push for a gigantic new stadium that—along with the team that played in it—would be the talk of the baseball world.
Then came the stock market crash of 1929. Municipal Stadium was built, despite the collapse of the industrial economy in Rust Belt cities, but the crowds did not follow. Always the shrewd businessman, Bradley had engineered a lease agreement with the city of Cleveland that included an out clause, and he exercised that option after the 1934 season, leaving the 80,000-seat, multimillion-dollar stadium without a tenant.
In No Money, No Beer, No Pennants, Scott H. Longert gives us a lively history of the ups and downs of a legendary team and its iconic players as they persevered through internal unrest and the turmoil of the Great Depression, pursuing a pennant that didn’t come until 1948. Illustrated with period photographs and filled with anecdotes of the great players, this book will delight fans of baseball and fans of Cleveland.
The first collection of critical essays to focus specifically on the fiction produced by American novelists of the Depression era, The Novel and the American Left contributes substantially to the newly emerging emphasis on twentieth-century American literary radicalism. Recent studies have recovered this body of work and redefined in historical and theoretical terms its vibrant contribution to American letters. Casey consolidates and expands this field of study by providing a more specific consideration of individual novels and novelists, many of which are reaching new contemporary audiences through reprints.
The Novel and the American Left focuses exclusively on left-leaning fiction of the Depression era, lending visibility and increased critical validity to these works and showing the various ways in which they contributed not only to theorizations of the Left but also to debates about the content and form of American fiction. In theoretical terms, the collection as a whole contributes to the larger reconceptualization of American modernity currently under way. More pragmatically, individual essays suggest specific authors, texts, and approaches to teachers and scholars seeking to broaden and/or complicate more traditional “American modernism” syllabi and research agendas.
The selected essays take up, among others, such “hard-core"” leftist writers as Mike Gold and Myra Page, who were associated with the Communist Party; the popular novels of James M. Cain and Kenneth Fearing, whose works were made into successful films; and critically acclaimed but nonetheless “lost” novelists such as Josephine Johnson, whose Now in November (Pulitzer Prize, 1936) anticipates and complicates the more popular agrarian mythos of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.
This volume will be of interest not only to literary specialists but also to historians, social scientists, and those interested in American cultural studies.
On the Picket Line uncovers the voices of working-class women, particularly those active in the Communist Party, U.S.A., in order to examine how these individuals confronted the tensions between their roles as workers, wives, mothers, and consumers. Combining critical analysis, Marxist and feminist theory, and labor history, Mary E. Triece analyzes the protest tactics employed by working class women to challenge dominant ideologies surrounding domesticity.
She details the rhetorical strategies used by women to argue for their rights as workers in the paid labor force and as caregivers in the home. Their overtly coercive tactics included numerous sit-ins, strikes, and boycotts that won tangible gains for working poor and unemployed women. The book also gives voice to influential figures in the 1930s labor movement (many of whom were members of the Communist Party, U.S.A.), such as Ella Reeve Bloor, Margaret Cowl, Anna Damon, Ann Burlak, and Grace Hutchins. Triece ultimately argues that these confrontational protest tactics of the 1930s remain relevant in today’s fights for more humane workplaces and better living conditions.
Between 1933 and 1935, Lorena Hickok traveled across thirty-two states as a "confidential investigator" for Harry Hopkins, head of FDR's Federal Emergency Relief Administration. Her assignment was to gather information about the day-to-day toll the Depression was exacting on individual citizens. One Third of a Nation is her record, underscored by the eloquent photographs of Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and others, of the shocking plight of millions of unemployed and dispossessed Americans.
Hastings experienced the rural and small town side of an event that touched all who weathered it—the economic crash of 1929 and its 10-year aftermath.
The author grew up in Marion, Illinois, entering the first grade in 1930, the start of the Great Depression. This book, which recalls memorable episodes in the life of that boy, is a sequel to the popular ANickel’s Worth of Skim Milk.
What Hastings experienced as a child was typical of depression-era life. Those who were young then can relive lost youth in Hastings’ books. And there were moments worth reliving: Hastings tells of “laughter and love and tears in the midst of hunger and cold and deprivation.” Those too young to have experienced the economic devastation can see those hard days through the eyes of a trained storyteller reporting from the point of view of a child.
This collection elucidates the key role played by the National Research Council seminars, reports, and pamphlets in setting an agenda that has guided American archaeology in the 20th century.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the fascination that Americans had for the continent's prehistoric past was leading to a widespread and general destruction of archaeological evidence. In a drive toward the commercialization of antiquities, amateur collectors and "pot hunters" pillaged premier and lesser-known sites before the archaeological record could be properly investigated and documented. Adding to the problem was a dearth of professionals and scholars in the field to conduct professional investigations and to educate the public about the need for preservation and scientific research methods.
In stepped the National Research Council, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, the Committee on State Archaeological Surveys. The CSAS initiated an enormously successful outreach program to enlist the aid of everyday citizens in preserving the fragile but valuable prehistoric past. Meetings held in St. Louis, Birmingham, and Indianapolis provided nuts-and-bolts demonstrations by trained archaeologists and laid out research agendas that both professionals and amateurs could follow.
Setting the Agenda contains the complete reports of the three NRC conferences, a short publication on the methods and techniques for conducting archaeological surveys, and a guide for amateur archaeologists. An extensive introduction by the editors sets these documents in context and provides insight into the intentions of the NRC committee members as they guided the development of American archaeology.
The Thieves of Summer
Linda Sillitoe Signature Books, 2014 Library of Congress PS3569.I447T48 2014 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Set in Salt Lake City at the height of the Great Depression, Linda Sillitoe’s last novel opens with three little girls, eleven-year-old triplets, skipping in front of their house at 1300 South, across from Liberty Park. They giggle lightly as they chant:
Prin-cess Al-ice in Liberty Park
Munch-es ba-nan-as ’til way after dark.
Princess Alice is an elephant the children of Utah purchased by donating nickels and dimes to a circus. The girls don’t know this, but her handler takes the mammoth princess out on late-night strolls around the park when the moon is out. What they do know is that the elephant sometimes escapes and goes on a rampage, crashing through front-yard fences and collecting collars of clothesline laundry around her neck, a persistent train of barking dogs following behind. The girls’ father is a police officer who is investigating a boy’s disappearance. As the case unfolds, the perception of the park, with its eighty acres of trees and grass, will change from the epitome of freedom to a place to be avoided, even as Princess Alice moves to a secure confinement at a new zoo at the mouth of Emigration Canyon. The story is loosely based on the exploits of a real live elephant that lived in Liberty Park a decade before Sillitoe’s childhood in the neighborhood.
Although much has been published about the economic downturn that began in mid-1929, very little has been written about the recovery from this cataclysmic period. Long, tortuous, and uneven as it was, there was indeed a recovery. In this important book, Steindl explores the much-neglected topic of the recovery, concentrating in particular on the macroeconomic developments responsible for the move back to a pre-Depression level economy.
Providing strong evidence for the role of the quantity of money in the revitalization, the author ultimately concludes that the seemingly robust monetary explanation of the recovery is deficient, as is any that relies principally on aggregate demand impulses. An accurate understanding of this phenomenon must account for the inherent tendency of the economy to revert to its long-run high employment trend.
Frank G. Steindl is Regents Professor of Economics and Ardmore Professor of Business Administration, Oklahoma State University.