Great Depression Issues

The Great Depression officially began in October of 1929 with the failure of the American banking system based on the Stock Market Crash and other economic abnormalities. The depression was caused by a variety of events; lack of oversight into American Banking, lagging European economies, issuing stocks being without collateral back up, agriciulture issues (poor harvests and bad weather in the corn belt), and a complete loss of confidence in the Western financial structures (The Great Depression: A Brief Overview). As unemployment rose to 25% most Americans suffered. If not from lack of work it was lack of customers, lack of means and education, and lack of hope. Women tended to lose their jobs faster than men or were paid far less than men; children suffered with poverty and lack of opportunity; race relations shifted and there was a considerable influx of poor African-Americans into the major urban centers of the north (Rothbard).

Family Structure -- Humans are nothing if not resiliant. When families were not working they still had family time -- board games because there was no money, cards with neighbors, listening to the radio, and helping each other out with food, clothing, and trade-out tasks. Often, though, because of the work issue, the father had to travel or live elsewhere. This happened more and more during the mid-late 30s when Roosevelt's "Alphabet Programs" offered work to thousands, as long as they were mobile. As a whole, though families lost up to 35% of their income, those not employeed already and a national average. Many couples delayed marriage, the divorce rate dropped because it was too expensive to file. Even the birth rate dropped. Some of the families tended to psychologically band together, others stopped looking for work and became paralyzed; with some men even walking out on their families simply to avoid the respondibility. A 1940 suvey, in fact, showed that 1.5 million women had been abandoned (America in the 1930s).

Women -- Despite the hardship and issues of the husband being out of work, in another state or region, or abandoning the family, women found their status enhanced simply because of the absence of men. Traditional roles in the family were gone; women had the power in many ways because they held the household and children together. Many women, left with no choice for income, began working outside the home simply to make ends meet. Black women, particularly, found it easier to find work than their husbands by focusing on lower paying jobs, like servants, clerks, or textile workers. Having money and being employeed also increased their status within the home and community, and thus changed their own outlook on society. Younger women, now with less of a possibility for early marrige, migrated en masse to the major urban areas in order to find some form of work that would support themselves in lieu of a husband. Of course, once the economic situation improved, these empowered women did not wish to return to their previous roles within society (Srigley).

Femininsm -- The Feminist Movement began far earlier than the 1930s, but gained a great deal after the 1920s and feminine enlightenment. During the Depression, however, women were forced into a different mindset and roles, and therefore began to expect more equality…