"At the height of the Great Depression, a group of unemployed Oakland workers decided to take matters into their own hands. The system wasn’t working, so they set up their own system. Money was nearly worthless, so they decided to live by barter. They called themselves the Unemployed Exchange Association and they soon went on to write a remarkable chapter in American economic history. This is their story.
“Movie theaters wanted nothing to do with popcorn,” Smith says, “because they were trying to duplicate what was done in real theaters. They had beautiful carpets and rugs and didn’t want popcorn being ground into it.” Movie theaters were trying to appeal to a highbrow clientele, and didn’t want to deal with the distracting trash of concessions–or the distracting noise that snacking during a film would create. - So Why Do We Eat Popcorn At The Movies Anyway
? (Smithsonian Mag)
A documentary film about Norman Borlaug, the Iowa farm boy who saved over a billion people from starvation. (1:06:47)
Americans have little knowledge of one of their greatest sons. Why do schoolchildren in China, India, Mexico, and Pakistan know the name and work of Nobel Peace Prize winner [His speech] Norman Borlaug
while so few of his countrymen have never heard of him? How did a dirt-poor farm boy from rural Iowa grow up to save a billion people worldwide from starvation and malnutrition and become the father of the Green Revolution? What were the inherited traits and environmental factors that shaped his astonishing journey and led to successes that surprised even him? What can we learn from his life and views that might help the human race survive the next critical century? [more inside]
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films
were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating
, preparing for being drafted
, and shyness
, as well as to children on following the law
, the value of quietness in school
, and appreciating our parents
. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health
, what kind of people live in America
, how to keep a job
, supervising women workers
, the nature of capitalism
, and the plantation System in Southern life
. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives
as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
Director and/or star of many of the greatest films ever made including The Great Dictator
(2:05:16) [Globe scene
and the eternally goosebump providing Final speech
], The Immigrant
(20:01), The Gold Rush
(1:11:49), City Lights
(1:22:40), Modern Times
(1:27:01), and Monsieur Verdoux
(1:59:03), Charlie Chaplin's
movies have entered the public domain in most countries. Below the fold is an annotated list of all 82 of his official short and feature films in chronological order, as well as several more, with links to where you can watch them; it's not like you had work to do right? [more inside]
In the early 1930s, William Valentiner thought the Roman Baroque courtyard at the Detroit Institute of Arts needed to be spruced up. With a commission from Edsel Ford, he hired Diego Rivera to paint two large murals of "some motif suggesting the development of industry."
The end result was the Detroit Industry Murals
. [more inside]
Pennies from Heaven is the most emotional movie musical I've ever seen. It's a stylized mythology* of the Depression which uses the popular songs of the period as expressions of people's deepest longings - for sex, for romance, for money, for a high good time...there was never a second when I wasn't fascinated* by what was happening on the screen.
- Pauline Kael (* SPOILERS)
You know about the Great Depression, but do you know about the Long Depression
? For a while now some have been
suggesting we're in a "Third Depression"
, not so much like the Great one, but more like
the Long Depression (1873–96) of 23 years (originally called the Great Depression). Suggesting "This slump won’t end until 2031"
. [more inside]
Today I am sharing with you an article arguing that unemployment rates during the Great Depression were overstated, that current unemployment rates are understated and that the two sets of data considered in combination indicate that we are are firmly in Depression-era levels of unemployment.
Artist Debbie Grossman
starts with Russell Lee
's Depression-era photographs of Pie Town, New Mexico, and then Photoshops the men into women
. (via) [more inside]
"People in these communities may not have experienced the Great Depression first-hand, but our research suggests that the cultural consequences of suspensions, especially as they relate to trust and demoralization, have been passed along for generations."
Counties with higher bank suspension rates in 1930 experienced elevated suicide rates 70 years later.
In 1933, a mysterious benefactor posted an ad
in the local Canton, Ohio paper, offering some Christmas funds to people who might otherwise shy away from asking for aid, even in those tough times. That Anonymous Giver went by the pseudonym "Mr. B. Virdot," and ended up giving some money to 150 families and people in town who wrote in with their personal stories. The unknown person's identity was never revealed, and his true identity was not even known to his grandson, until the mysterious benefactor's daughter gave her son, Ted Gup, a battered suitcase full of letters and checks signed by "Mr. B. Virdot"
. The mysterious man was Samuel J. Stone, a Jewish man whose family had fled Romania when he was young. Stone had done well in the United States, and owned a small chain of clothing stores in 1933. The story of the mysterious gifts hasn't faded from Canton
, and on November 5 of this year, Stone's grandson, Gup, gave a public talk to the community and decedents of the original recipients of Virdot's gifts.
And now, Canton residents are bringing back the spirit of Virdot
. [more inside]
Walter Breuning reminisces about his life in three centuries
. As the oldest man in the world and in celebration of his 114th birthday
on September 21, Mr. Breuning agreed to this exclusive interview. Questions were gleaned via the internet from individuals around the world.
, hamburgers in which the meat has been supplemented with bread, meal, or crackers for filler, come from a triangular region that cuts across northern Alabama, northern Mississippi, and southern Tennessee and roughly corresponds with the Tennessee Valley
. They're called slugburgers in Moulton, Alabama
; Decatur, Alabama
; and Corinth, Mississippi
; doughburgers in Tupelo, Mississippi
; and breadburgers in Cullman, Alabama
. This regional take on the hamburger became popular during the Great Depression
, when the price of meat made it necessary to use fillers to extend supply. Though the exact origin of the term is disputed, it is most commonly held that Slugburgers got their name from the coin used to pay for them: when each burger cost 5¢, you could pay for one with a nickel which was then also called a slug. Corinth, Mississippi, has held an annual Slugburger Festival
since 1988. Take a photographic tour
of the Slugburger Trail. [more inside]
Slang in the Great Depression.
Less'n you're a dumbcluck, you're gonna open up that bazoo and speak the language taught John Swartzwelder everything he knows. [more inside]
In Our Own Backyard: Resisting Nazi Propaganda In Southern California 1933 - 1945
, a digital exhibition from the Oviatt Library at Cal State Northridge. "The Nazi Propaganda period, 1933 to 1945, chronicles a crucial twelve years in American history. This exhibit's story about the local threat to American ideals demonstrates how European events reached across the ocean and affected people in Southern California -- in our own backyard." Magazines
. [more inside]
Quit Lying About Roosevelt!
"Amity Shlaes, the GOP's Great Depression philosopher-queen, couldn't be more dangerously wrong." [Via]
Feeling the pinch? Ninety-something Clara Cannucciari
can teach you how to survive the lean times. In a series of YouTube videos directed by her great grandson, Clara reminisces about the Great Depression ("I had to quit high school because I couldn't afford socks!"), and provides cooking tips on such Depression-era fare as Pasta with Peas
(6:32), Egg Drop Soup
(6:52), Poorman's Meal
(Part 1, 5:41; Part 2, 5:47), Bread
(4:08), and Depression Breakfast
(6:13). [more inside]
What was it like during the Great Depression?
University of Oregon Economist Mark Thoma links to interviews by Studs Terkel which deal with the Great Depression. All interviews in Real Player format. Interviewees: Gardner C. Means
, economic adviser to FDR. Peggy Terry
, a migrant farm worker (my favorite interview). Virginia Durr
, civil rights activist. Ed Paulsen
, dayworker. Emma Tiller
, cook. Pauline Kael
Pauline Kael). Mary Owsley
, farm worker. Much more in the Hard Times section
of the wonderful Studs Terkel website
, which has been featured twice previously on MetaFilter (1
) [via Obsidian Wings]
Book of Short Stories
:: Short stories written by New York State 5th graders in 1931. (Be sure to read the About
page to get a sense of the setting of the times.) (via Thingamababy)
The 'Dirty Thirties' saw farmers hit with the double-whammy of the Great Depression and the ecological disaster of the Dust bowl
"In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered 203 families from the hardest-hit areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan the chance to start fresh in a new land, in a fertile Alaskan valley with the melodic name Matanuska."
"It was heady, fine-sounding stuff on paper.
Picked from relief rolls in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the prospective colonists knew their Promised Land was a wilderness, but the Government was going to turn the wilderness overnight into an Eden with running water, radios, a cinema. It was going to set each family up on fine 40-acre farms with every necessity, many a luxury, 30 years to pay." It didn't quite work out as well as they'd hoped.thirties' saw many farmers in the United States [more inside]
Songs that clearly and directly address or reference economic hardships and injustice in America, not to mention that do so in a bitter, regretful tone, don't often become enormous hits. Matter of fact, it's such a rare phenomenon that you could count such songs on... um, one finger? Yes, Yip Harburg
and Jay Gorney
's iconic Brother Can You Spare a Dime
is that song. Covered by a surprisingly wide range
of singers through the years, the song still resonates
. [more inside]
Hank Stuever's 3000-word Washington Post
article thinks about the Depression
and what it means to the U.S. now. via Snarkmarket
"The storm carried twice as much dirt as was dug out of the earth to create the Panama Canal. The canal took seven years to dig; the storm lasted a single afternoon. More than 300,000 tons of Great Plains topsoil was airborne on that day.
Black Sunday. April 14, 1935. Timeline
, Oral Histories (Kansas
), Dust Bowl Movie (part I
, part II
), Black Sunday photos (1
). [previous dust on mefi: iraq, texas, africa, china]
The comic-opera Huey Long
: Journalist, teacher, legal advisor to the abortive American-Indian-run state of Sequoyah
, ‘Alfalfa Bill’ Murray (wiki)
ran Dust Bowl Oklahoma with an iron fist - calling out the National Guard forty-seven times in four years and setting off a three-day armed standoff
with the state of Texas. In 1932, his “Bread, Butter, Bacon, and Beans” Presidential platform was so badly eclipsed by The New Deal, his delegates officially threw their votes to a joke candidate (balloting)
Unlike his fellow Depression-era populists
, Murray continued as a public figure post-war, campaigning for worker’s rights, the United Nations, segregation, exporting the Jews to Madagascar
, and winning the Cold War by putting ethnic Russians in internment camps. Seventy-five years on, he was honored by the Oklahoma legislature for the only bit that actually mattered
Teenage Hoboes in the Great Depression. During the Great Depression over 250,000 young people left home and began riding freight trains or hitchhiking across America. Most of them were between 16 and 25 years of age. Many finally found work and shelter through the Civilian Conservation Corps, a government relief project that Franklin D. Roosevelt established in 1933 as part of the New Deal. From 1933 to 1942, CCC enrollees built new roads, strung telephone wires, erected fire towers, and planted approximately 3 billion trees. By 1935, the program was providing employment for more than 500,000 young men.