Pictorial History of the Great Depression
The great depression began with the stock market crash of 1929. Most stocks that were worth a considerable amount of money dropped to pennies on the dollar. Many in business suffered from the stock market crash. After the crash, many businesses could no longer stay open. In the 1930's unemployment was around 30%--that means one in three adult males had no job. To the right is a picture of two men standing in the middle of town hoping to find somework. Often times there were hundreds applying for one job. Many had to move from their homes and lives in order to find work. Many people were without food and homeless. To add the the stock market crash, there was a great draught called the dust bowl that caused millions to migrate west from Oklahoma and other southern states. Many moved to California with whatever they could fit in their cars, or on their backs.
Consider this man who walks alone with little possessions in California's Imperial valley in search for work on a farm or ranch. Many men and women had to work for farmers to pick and tend crops. They made little money and lived in squalor. These people were called migrant farm workers. Many were called "Okies" because of their roots in Oklahoma. It took years of hard work to gain any kind of wealth, happiness, or hope for the future.
Perhaps the hardest part to consider is the poverty of families and children living during the depression. To the right is a picture of a migrant worker with a child of about a year old. The family lived in a tent without the things that make one feel at home. Hungry and working heavy labor to keep themselves alive--this is the plight of the migrant farmer or rancher.
Another thing to consider is that many did not have the luxury of even having a job. This poor woman of 18 on the left has no home and a small child. The boy next to her sits desolate on the hard earth. During the great depression this kind of poverty was normal and seen throughout the United States of America.
Many had to work hard labor to make ends meet, both young and old. These two groups actually worked for the government to clear land and plant farms.
In the novel Of Mice and Men the two main characters live in this time period. They are migrant workers who have just landed a job much like the one seen below and to the left. It was hard work for little pay. Yet it was more than many had during these hard times. A hard working man could find work or travel to where workers was in demand. This left many single young men displaced, moving about the country, looking for a place to work, or perhaps a home.