Great Depression

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Great Depression

Great Depression, in U.S. history, the severe economic crisis generally considered to have been precipitated by the U.S. stock-market crash of 1929. Although it shared the basic characteristics of other such crises (see depression), the Great Depression was unprecedented in its length and in the wholesale poverty and tragedy it inflicted on society. Economists have disagreed over its causes, but certain causative factors are generally accepted. The prosperity of the 1920s was unevenly distributed among the various parts of the American economy—farmers and unskilled workers were notably excluded—with the result that the nation's productive capacity was greater than its capacity to consume. In addition, the tariff and war-debt policies of the Republican administrations of the 1920s had cut down the foreign market for American goods. Finally, easy-money policies led to an inordinate expansion of credit and installment buying and fantastic speculation in the stock market.

The American depression produced severe effects abroad, especially in Europe, where many countries had not fully recovered from the aftermath of World War I; in Germany, the economic disaster and resulting social dislocation contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler. In the United States, at the depth (1932–33) of the depression, there were 16 million unemployed—about one third of the available labor force. The gross national product declined from the 1929 figure of $103,828,000,000 to $55,760,000,000 in 1933, and in two years more than 5,000 banks failed. As a social consequence of the depression, the birthrate fell precipitously, for the first time in American history falling below the replacement rate. The economic, agricultural, and relief policies of the New Deal administration under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did a great deal to mitigate the effects of the depression and, most importantly, to restore a sense of confidence to the American people. Yet it is generally agreed that complete business recovery was not achieved and unemployment ended until the early 1940s, when as a result of World War II the government began to spend heavily for defense.


See R. R. and H. M. Lynd, Middletown in Transition (1937, repr. 1982); F. L. Allen, Since Yesterday: The 1930s in America (1940); D. Wecter, The Age of the Great Depression (1948, repr. 1956); A. M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Crisis of the Old Order (1957); D. A. Shannon, ed., The Great Depression (1960); C. Bird, The Invisible Scar: The Great Depression, and What It Did to American Life … (1966); A. U. Romasco, The Poverty of Abundance (1965); G. Rees, The Great Slump (1970); S. Terkel, Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970, repr. 2000); C. P. Kindleberger, The World in Depression (1973); G. H. Elder, Jr., Children of the Great Depression (1974, upd. ed. 1998); B. Eichengreen, Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919–1939 (1996); D. M. Kennedy, Freedom from Fear (1999); T. H. Watkins, The Hungry Years (1999); L. Ahamed, Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World (2009); M. Dickstein, Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression (2009); C. R. Morris, A Rabble of Dead Money (2017).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Great Depression

economic crisis of 1929–1939, unprecedented in length and widespread poverty. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1132]
See: Poverty
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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As more patterns and the like of depression era glassware is being located and authenticated some of the books I have used for more than 20 years continue to be fine, however, the newer pieces and patterns may not appear, and a new book is always a good buy now and then.
Many people coming to the shows are seeing and enjoying the depression era architecture for the first time.
Hard times for Jake Smith; a story of the Depression Era. Milkweed.
Italian identity, therefore, was made locally out of the Depression era crisis and fueled internationally by Benito Mussolini's rise to power.
Maneuvering across Depression era France and Germany, then plopping down in the post-revolutionary Soviet Union fortified Poston's experience in ways that would yet be tested.
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie (Pocket Books, $12.95) Most books written in the 1930s would have little value or use today, especially considering our vast prosperity in contrast to the Great Depression era. However, there is one masterpiece that has stood the test of time--How to Win Friends and Influence People.
During the Eisenhower years, Disney offered a "narrower, more defensive rendition" of the "older, optimistic, inclusive populism of the Depression era."
Its members are enjoying a rather good life, less fearful of spending than people of the depression era, but not as free as the Boomers.
Gene & Cathy Florence's Glass Candlesticks Of The Depression Era, Volume 2: Identification And Value (1574324950, $24.95) provides a secondary volume of addition candles collected since the author's first volume, presenting the same easy organization by maker and the fine color photos which lend to quick identification.
Roll of Thunder, the first story she wrote, centers on Cassie Logan and her family, rare black landowners among the Mississippi sharecroppers of the 1930s Depression Era, when "night men" with their cross burnings, beatings and lynchings were an ever-present threat.
His Depression Era works suggests that, since all male workers are raised in a patriarchal society, their feelings of powerlessness can evoke feelings of emasculation.
Their behavior was responsive to values and aspirations that made "rank-and-file sentiment" often "complex and internally conflictual." And their communities were as likely to maintain workers' "strong attachments to the central features of American society" as they were to provide a basis for militant solidarity.(26) Thus, while Zieger grants that the American working class was often angry during the Depression era, he does not believe it was alienated.

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