Anti-Imperialist Modernism excavates how U.S. cross-border, multi-ethnic anti-imperialist movements at mid-century shaped what we understand as cultural modernism and the historical period of the Great Depression. The book demonstrates how U.S. multiethnic cultural movements, located in political parties, small journals, labor unions, and struggles for racial liberation, helped construct a common sense of international solidarity that critiqued ideas of nationalism and essentialized racial identity. The book thus moves beyond accounts that have tended to view the pre-war “Popular Front” through tropes of national belonging or an abandonment of the cosmopolitanism of previous decades. Impressive archival research brings to light the ways in which a transnational vision of modernism and modernity was fashioned through anti-colonial networks of North/South solidarity.
Chapters examine farmworker photographers in California’s central valley, a Nez Perce intellectual traveling to the Soviet Union, imaginations of the Haitian Revolution, the memory of the U.S.–Mexico War, and U.S. radical writers traveling to Cuba. The last chapter examines how the Cold War foreclosed these movements within a nationalist framework, when activists and intellectuals had to suppress the transnational nature of their movements, often rewriting the cultural past to conform to a patriotic narrative of national belonging.
In the 1930s, the unemployed were organizing. Jobless workers felt they were “entitled" to a new kind of government protection—the protection from undeserved unemployment and the financial straits that such unemployment created. They wanted dignified forms of relief (including work relief) during the Depression, and unemployment insurance after.
Becoming Entitled artfully chronicles the emergence of this worker entitlement and the people who cultivated it. Abigail Trollinger focuses largely on Chicago after the Progressive Era, where the settlement house and labor movements both flourished. She shows how reformers joined workers and relief officials to redeem the unemployed and secure government-funded social insurance for them. Becoming Entitled also offers a critical reappraisal of New Deal social and economic changes, suggesting that the transformations of the 1930s came from reformers in the “middle,” who helped establish a limited form of entitlement for workers.
Ultimately, Trollinger highlights the achievements made by reformers working on city- and nation-wide issues. She captures the moment when some people shed the stigma that came with unemployment and demanded that the government do the same.
Andrew J. Dunar and Dennis McBride skillfully interweave eyewitness accounts of the building of Hoover Dam. These stories create the richest existing portrait of the building of Hoover Dam and its tremendous effect on the lives of those involved in its creation: the gritty, sometimes grisly realities of living in cardboard boxes and tents during several of the hottest Southern Nevada summers on record; the fearsome carbon monoxide deaths of tunnel builders who, it was claimed, had died of "pneumonia"; the uproarious life of nearby Las Vegas versus the tightly controlled existence of the workers in the built-overnight confines of Boulder City; and of course the astounding accomplishment of building the Dam itself and completing the task not only early but under budget!
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.
Public trust in corporations plummeted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, when “Lehman Brothers” and “General Motors” became dirty words for many Americans. In Corporate Dreams, James Hoopes argues that Americans still place too much faith in corporations and, especially, in the idea of “values-based leadership” favored by most CEOs. The danger of corporations, he suggests, lies not just in their economic power, but also in how their confused and undemocratic values are infecting Americans’ visions of good governance.
Corporate Dreams proposes that Americans need to radically rethink their relationships with big business and the government. Rather than buying into the corporate notion of “values-based leadership,” we should view corporate leaders with the same healthy suspicion that our democratic political tradition teaches us to view our political leaders. Unfortunately, the trend is moving the other way. Corporate notions of leadership are invading our democratic political culture when it should be the reverse.
To diagnose the cause and find a cure for our toxic attachment to corporate models of leadership, Hoopes goes back to the root of the problem, offering a comprehensive history of corporate culture inAmerica, from the Great Depression to today’s Great Recession. Combining a historian’s careful eye with an insider’s perspective on the business world, this provocative volume tracks changes in government economic policy, changes in public attitudes toward big business, and changes in how corporate executives view themselves.
Whether examining the rise of Leadership Development programs or recounting JFK’s Pyrrhic victory over U.S. Steel, Hoopes tells a compelling story of how America lost its way, ceding authority to the policies and values of corporate culture. But he also shows us how it’s not too late to return to our democratic ideals—and that it’s not too late to restore the American dream.
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.
American public universities suffered tremendous funding cuts during the 1930s, yet they were also responsible for educating increasing numbers of students. The mounting financial troubles, coupled with a perceived increase in the number of “radical” student activists, contributed to a general sense of crisis on American college campuses.
University leaders used their athletic programs to combat this crisis and to preserve “traditional” American values and institutions, prescribing different models for men and women. Educators emphasized the competitive nature of men’s athletics, seeking to inculcate male college athletes (and their audiences) with individualistic, masculine values in order to reinforce the existing American political and economic systems.
In stark contrast, the prevailing model of women’s college athletics taught a communal form of democracy. Strongly supported by almost all female athletic leaders, this “a girl for every game, and a game for every girl” model had replaced the more competitive model that had been popular until the 1920s. The new programs denied women individual attention and high-level competition, and they promoted the development of what was considered proper femininity.
Whatever larger purposes these programs were intended to serve, they could not have survived without vocal supporters. Democratic Sports tells the important story of how men’s and women’s college athletic programs survived, and even thrived, during the most challenging decade of the twentieth century.
"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.
As a counterpart to research on the 1930s that has focused on liberal and radical writers calling for social revolution, David Welky offers this eloquent study of how mainstream print culture shaped and disseminated a message affirming conservative middle-class values and assuring its readers that holding to these values would get them through hard times. Through analysis of the era's most popular newspaper stories, magazines, and books, Welky examines how voices both outside and within the media debated the purposes of literature and the meaning of cultural literacy in a mass democracy. He presents lively discussions of such topics as the newspaper treatment of the Lindbergh kidnapping, issues of race in coverage of the 1936 Olympic games, domestic dynamics and gender politics in cartoons and magazines, Superman's evolution from a radical outsider to a spokesman for the people, and the popular consumption of such novels as the Ellery Queen mysteries, Gone with the Wind, and The Good Earth. Through these close readings, Welky uncovers the subtle relationship between the messages that mainstream media strategically crafted and those that their target audience wished to hear.
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
The definitive history of pawnbroking in the United States from the nation’s founding through the Great Depression, In Hock demonstrates that the pawnshop was essential to the rise of capitalism. The class of working poor created by this economic tide could make ends meet only, Wendy Woloson argues, by regularly pawning household objects to supplement inadequate wages. Nonetheless, businessmen, reformers, and cultural critics claimed that pawnshops promoted vice, and employed anti-Semitic stereotypes to cast their proprietors as greedy and cold-hearted. Using personal correspondence, business records, and other rich archival sources to uncover the truth behind the rhetoric, Woloson brings to life a diverse cast of characters and shows that pawnbrokers were in fact shrewd businessmen, often from humble origins, who possessed sophisticated knowledge of a wide range of goods in various resale markets.
A much-needed new look at a misunderstood institution, In Hock is both a first-rate academic study of a largely ignored facet of the capitalist economy and a resonant portrait of the economic struggles of generations of Americans.
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.
Long overlooked in histories of finance, women played an essential role in areas such as banking and the stock market during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yet their presence sparked ongoing controversy. Hetty Green’s golden touch brought her millions, but she outraged critics with her rejection of domesticity. Progressives like Victoria Woodhull, meanwhile, saw financial acumen as more important for women than the vote.
George Robb’s pioneering study explores the financial methods, accomplishments, and careers of three generations of women. Plumbing sources from stock brokers’ ledgers to media coverage, Robb reveals the many ways women invested their capital while exploring their differing sources of information, approaches to finance, interactions with markets, and levels of expertise. He also rediscovers the forgotten women bankers, brokers, and speculators who blazed new trails--and sparked public outcries over women’s unsuitability for the predatory rough-and-tumble of market capitalism.
Entertaining and vivid with details, Ladies of the Ticker sheds light on the trailblazers who transformed Wall Street into a place for women’s work.
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.
Making Choices, Making Do is a comparative study of Black and White working class women’s survival strategies during the Great Depression. Based primarily on analysis of employment histories and Depression-era interviews of 1,340 women in Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and South Bend, Lois Helmbold discovered that while going through the Depression, both Black and White women lost work fairly equally, but the benefits that White women accrued because of structural racism meant they avoided the utter destitution that more commonly swallowed their Black peers. For example, when let go from a job, a White woman was more successful in securing a less prestigious job, which allowed her continuous employment, while Black women, especially older Black women, were pushed out of the labor force entirely. Helmbold found other ways that Black and White working class women's lives intertwined, sometimes positively, sometimes not. She found that overall, working class women were less racially segregated than men in their jobs. Making Choices, Making Do strives to fill the gap in the labor history of women, both Black and White, during the Depression. The book will challenge the limits of segregated histories and encourage more comparative analyses.
Photography became a dominant medium in cultural life starting in the late nineteenth century. As it happened, viewers increasingly used their reactions to photographs to comment on and debate public issues as vital as war, national identity, and citizenship.
Cara A. Finnegan analyzes a wealth of newspaper and magazine articles, letters to the editor, trial testimony, books, and speeches produced by viewers in response to specific photos they encountered in public. From the portrait of a young Lincoln to images of child laborers and Depression-era hardship, Finnegan treats the photograph as a locus for viewer engagement and constructs a history of photography's viewers that shows how Americans used words about images to participate in the politics of their day. As she shows, encounters with photography helped viewers negotiate the emergent anxieties and crises of U.S. public life through not only persuasion but action, as well.
The Money Doctor in the Andes is an account of the technical assistance missions to five Andean republics—Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru—undertaken by Princeton University economist Edwin Walter Kemmerer during the 1920s. Drake demonstrates that in each case the Kemmerer mission recommended an identical series of monetary, fiscal, and banking reforms, adding occasional recommendations on everything from administrative reorganization to penal code reform as local circumstances seemed to warrant. In each case, too, local legislatures adopted all the main Kemmerer proposals virtually without debate or modifications.
Drake links the Kemmerer missions to vital developments in the political economic history of the Andean republics in the interwar period. He analyzes the domestic interest groups and political forces whose convergent strategies gave the Kemmerer missions their remarkable record in achieving local success for the reforms proposed. Second, Drake situates the Kemmerer missions at the center of a process of political modernization that created new institutions and policy agencies in each of the five countries; the missions thereby contributed to the expansion of the central government as an agent of development in ways that later differed sharply from Kemmerer's orthodox policies. Finally, The Money Doctor in the Andes regards developments in the Andean countries in the context of the region's developing economic ties to the United States. Expectations that Kemmerer's plans would simultaneously attract foreign capital and control inflation drew support from sectors as diverse as trade unions and landowners. When the Depression deepened, Kemmerer's policies proved counterproductive and the fragile consensus that had installed them fell apart, but the political and administrative reforms endured—with far-reaching consequences.
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.
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.
The forces that turned Northeast Texas from a poverty-stricken region into a more economically prosperous area.
Winner, Texas State Historical Association Coral H. Tullis Memorial Award for best book on Texas history, 2001
Federal New Deal programs of the 1930s and World War II are often credited for transforming the South, including Texas, from a poverty-stricken region mired in Confederate mythology into a more modern and economically prosperous part of the United States. By contrast, this history of Northeast Texas, one of the most culturally southern areas of the state, offers persuasive evidence that political, economic, and social modernization began long before the 1930s and prepared Texans to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the New Deal and World War II.
Walter L. Buenger draws on extensive primary research to tell the story of change in Northeast Texas from 1887 to 1930. Moving beyond previous, more narrowly focused studies of the South, he traces and interconnects the significant changes that occurred in politics, race relations, business and the economy, and women's roles. He also reveals how altered memories of the past and the emergence of a stronger identification with Texas history affected all facets of life in Northeast Texas.
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.
Orson Welles’s greatest breakthrough into the popular consciousness occurred in 1938, three years before Citizen Kane, when his War of the Worlds radio broadcast succeeded so spectacularly that terrified listeners believed they were hearing a genuine report of an alien invasion—a landmark in the history of radio’s powerful relationship with its audience. In Radio’s America, Bruce Lenthall documents the enormous impact radio had on the lives of Depression-era Americans and charts the formative years of our modern mass culture.
Many Americans became alienated from their government and economy in the twentieth century, and Lenthall explains that radio’s appeal came from its capability to personalize an increasingly impersonal public arena. His depictions of such figures as proto-Fascist Charles Coughlin and medical quack John Brinkley offer penetrating insight into radio’s use as a persuasive tool, and Lenthall’s book is unique in its exploration of how ordinary Americans made radio a part of their lives. Television inherited radio’s cultural role, and as the voting tallies for American Idol attest, broadcasting continues to occupy a powerfully intimate place in American life. Radio’s America reveals how the connections between power and mass media began.
During the Great Depression, people from across the political spectrum sought to ground American identity in the rural know-how of “the folk.” At the same time, certain writers, filmmakers, and intellectuals combined documentary and satire into a hybrid genre that revealed the folk as an anxious product of corporate capitalism, rather than an antidote to commercial culture. In Real Folks, Sonnet Retman analyzes the invention of the folk as figures of authenticity in the political culture of the 1930s, as well as the critiques that emerged in response. Diverse artists and intellectuals—including the novelists George Schuyler and Nathanael West, the filmmaker Preston Sturges, and the anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston—illuminated the fabrication and exploitation of folk authenticity in New Deal and commercial narratives. They skewered the racist populisms that prevented interracial working-class solidarity, prophesized the patriotic function of the folk for the nation-state in crisis, and made their readers and viewers feel self-conscious about the desire for authenticity. By illuminating the subversive satirical energy of the 1930s, Retman identifies a rich cultural tradition overshadowed until now by the scholarly focus on Depression-era social realism.
Through dozens of in-depth interviews representing all sections of the state, farm families recall their best times, their worst times, and day-to-day experiences such as chores, washing, bathing, clothes making, medical care, home remedies, spiritual life, courtship and marriage, and school experiences. Their stories reveal how ordinary men and women, frequently living in abject poverty, endured cataclysmic natural disasters and economic collapse with extraordinary courage, faith, resourcefulness, and a good sense of humor.
As the Great Depression gripped the United States in the early 1930s, the Hoover administration sought to preserve jobs for Anglo-Americans by targeting Mexicans, including long-time residents and even US citizens, for deportation. Mexicans comprised more than 46 percent of all people deported between 1930 and 1939, despite being only 1 percent of the US population. In all, about half a million people of Mexican descent were deported to Mexico, a “homeland” many of them had never seen, or returned voluntarily in fear of deportation.
They Came to Toil investigates how the news reporting of this episode in immigration history created frames for representing Mexicans and immigrants that persist to the present. Melita M. Garza sets the story in San Antonio, a city central to the formation of Mexican American identity, and contrasts how the city’s three daily newspapers covered the forced deportations of Mexicans. She shows that the Spanish-language La Prensa not surprisingly provided the fullest and most sympathetic coverage of immigration issues, while the locally owned San Antonio Express and the Hearst chain-owned San Antonio Light varied between supporting Mexican labor and demonizing it. Garza analyzes how these media narratives, particularly in the English-language press, contributed to the racial “othering” of Mexicans and Mexican Americans. Adding an important new chapter to the history of the Long Civil Rights Movement, They Came to Toil brings needed historical context to immigration issues that dominate today’s headlines.
Discouraged by widespread unemployment and alarmed by anti-Mexican sentiment, nearly five hundred thousand Mexican Americans returned to Mexico between 1929 and 1939. Historian Abraham Hoffman captures the despair of these thousands of people of Mexican descent—including those with U.S. citizenship—who were actively coerced into leaving the country.
Prior to 1931, many Mexican Americans left the United States voluntarily, prompted by homesickness, unemployment, and the Mexican government’s offer of free small land parcels. As the Great Depression deepened, repatriation pressures increased. Anglo groups lobbied for laws that excluded aliens from jobs and welfare benefits. Many businessmen, government officials, and social workers believed that removing Mexican Americans would open up jobs for U.S. citizens and alleviate some of the burden placed on relief agencies.
The Department of Labor’s federal deportation drive, launched in 1931, created an atmosphere of fear and tension in Mexican American communities. Immigration agents conducted surprise searches for people who had entered the country illegally, and Mexicans who had crossed the border before restrictive legislation was passed became prime targets of the deportation campaign.
Welfare agencies throughout the United States organized repatriation programs. The Los Angeles County Welfare Bureau, with the most extensive program, was responsible for the removal of more than thirteen thousand Mexican Americans. A few well-publicized deportations had frightened Mexicans who were unsure of their immigration status. Many chose repatriation over possible deportation.
Using much archival material and many previously unpublished government documents, Hoffman focuses on the repatriation experience in Los Angeles. The city’s large Mexican American population provides an excellent case study of the entire movement. He also surveys the process of Mexican repatriation throughout the entire United States.
Recounts the hardships and joys the Kilgore family and their neighbors experienced in a close-knit southern rural community during the Great Depression
As the Great Depression tightened its grip on the world, six members of the Kilgore family were living in a cramped farmhouse in Brookwood, Alabama. Crops didn’t grow well, food was scarce, shoes were in short supply, and the few clothes they had were all hand-me-downs. The Kilgore’s struggled to make ends meet, cobbling together odd jobs and working the land by hand.
Despite all of this, young Aileen thought life was full of hope. She longed to hold on to it and scribbled down daily events on whatever odds and ends of paper she could find. In her new memoir, When the Wolf Camped at Our Door, Aileen Kilgore Henderson creates a vivid portrait of what life was like for so many living in the rural South during the Depression. The book begins when Aileen is ten years old and follows her into her teenage years over the course of twenty-seven episodic chapters. Drawing on her girlhood diaries and told through the charismatic voice of her younger self, Henderson’s nuanced storytelling sheds light on the common struggle for survival during a time when people were at their most vulnerable.
Against the backdrop of a world where hard work and harsh conditions like hunger, privation, sickness, and early death were everyday realities, Henderson’s stories are nevertheless tinged with young Aileen’s lively sense of humor and optimistic faith in people and in the promise of life despite trying circumstances. We follow her rambles in the woods, her visits with friends, a trip to a fortune teller, and a search for the Howton Horror, a mysterious monster rumored to live deep in the Alabama backwoods.