The Great Depression was a time of desperation for many families to survive. From the stock market crash in 1929 until 1940, jobs were limited and people had little resources, not to mention little hope, for the future. Many people use general statements to describe this economic trench. They learned about the average difficulties people went through. However, are people actually learning about the different hardships US citizens in different economic classes experienced during the Great Depression? When learning about this low point of US history, the highlights seem to focus on the broad hardships that were experienced. Were these only the difficulties that applied to the middle class of America or did everyone involved experience the same thing? To better portray and relate this information, people must see and comprehend these difficulties through the point of view that not widely known. Teenagers and children, the generation being raised during this time, could do nothing to better their situation. They were at the mercy of how their parents handled the crisis and their job situation. So what is it like for children during this time? Did they understand what was going on or did they just accept the hardships as the norm? You will be exploring this perspective throughout this site and activities included in it. In the end, you should be able to explain how the youth of the Great Depression survived this time through the use of photos, youthful accounts of this time, and editorial cartoons to make a lasting impression that shows how children and teenagers endured the Great Depression.
Photos of youth during the depression can depict the many hardships they went through. Whether it was not having clean clothes or not having enough food, children suffered greatly during this time but are not given the attention. You have always heard about times being tough in the 1930’s and/or may be experiencing something similar with the current economy. But actually visualizing the hardships makes it real. The main idea behind using photos of children of the Great Depression is to help people understand the children’s perspective of the Great Depression. By examining and exploring these pictures, it should help you understand the bareness of the children’s lives and show how they are somewhat helpless in their situation. What could these children do to better their lives? What could be done, if anything? These pictures depict destroyed lives from the depression in the eyes of children, a perspective in history which is often neglected.
What happens when it gets personal? What was going through children’s minds when they were going through this? The best way to find this out is from the primary source. Children’s accounts of what happened are a good way to portray how desperate the US youth was in this time. The thoughts of the Great Depression children serve as reference points in their thought processes about what was going on and what was important to them at the time. This is something not published commonly in textbooks nor in required reading material, but is an important viewpoint in making this information more relatable. Economic crisis comes to affect many levels of livelihood and the best way to demonstrate this is to try to put yourself in the shoes of the ones experiencing the event first-hand. This unique perspective can be very useful in helping you understand the differing experiences during times of disparity and how the children of the time perceived such an event at an age many people have not considered to be valuable. It is one thing to see how adults dealt with their hardships, but these accounts serve as representations of the youth during this time and can be quite helpful in understanding how someone in your age range went through the Great Depression.
The last part of this project to make it hit home is comparing the current wreck of the economy to the Great Depression. Our horrible economy now is very relatable to the depression and can be compared through the use of editorial cartoons. To achieve this, you will see how the Great Depression and the current recession are a lot alike, but different as well. Media is a great example of how people are influenced during times of depression. It is also one of the best ways to gauge public opinion about a situation. These political cartoons stand for the perspective of the media in troubled times. But they were viewed by children when they would see a newspaper and provoke a number of reactions from its audience. These depictions are similar to the ones we have about current economic troubles, making it easy to compare the perspectives of children during the Great Depression to the views of the youth today around the same age.
The Great Depression affected the US enormously and still has an impact on the way people handle their finances in the face of economic downturn. A demographic commonly overlooked in situations like these is the youth and younger generation. When covering this time in history, teachers and textbooks cover what the general population went through. But, should there not be emphasis on what the youth experienced throughout this poor economy? Views from the general population help people gauge what American citizens in different demographics went through during the Great Depression. Can everyone relate to a middle class family during this time? No. To perceive how the Great Depression affected different people, people need to understand different points of view. This includes looking at this event in American history through the eyes of the most helpless group that went through it, the youth and children. By analyzing pictures of the youth during this time, sharing their perspective through personal accounts, and comparing and contrasting the views of the current youth and the youth of the Great Depression on the criteria within editorial cartoons, you will be able to envision what an ignored demographic went through in crisis instead of just learning about a general experience. Seeing the depression through this perspective gives it an entirely different feel and demonstrates how historical events are experienced in many ways other than just one generality and in a way that can relate to you.