The Great Depression Grade 6
Essential Understanding/ learning objective: The Great Depression was a period in time for worldwide suffering. How did the Great Depression affect American families and what did the government do to help them?
Case File – Great Depression Families Living in the Great Depression and the Government’s Involvement “How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can’t scare him–he has known a fear beyond every other.” John Steinbeck
Introduction to Case In this case, you will be challenged to “put yourself in the shoes” of families during the Great Depression. You will see a video, read excerpts from letters and/or examine pictures to investigate the effects of the depression on American families. Your job is to determine what the government did to help them. During this process you will complete a detective’s log to help you chart your findings. At the end of the case you will complete a chosen RAFT activity. You must cite evidence to support the results of your investigation.
Becoming a Detective Given the following documents make inferences as to the effects the Great Depression had on American families . Investigate how the Government helped. Finally you will be asked to come up with an answer to the following question: Did the state/national government do enough to help the American people?
Investigating the Evidence The following documents contain sensitive information. You must be 11 years of age or older to view the evidence in this file!
EXHIBIT A - Video GROWING UP IN THE GREAT DEPRESSION - In this video you will listen to several people’s stories about life during the Great Depression. Each person tells a different experience. Use your detective’s log to document the evidence of how the Great Depression affected each of their lives.
EXHIBIT 2EXHIBIT BMigrant Mother Photographer – Dorothea Lange
EXHIBIT C Mother and children
EXHIBIT D “Okie” family heading west * The term “Okie” came to mean anyone heading west for a better life to flee the dust bowl.
EXHIBIT E Unemployed workers in front of a shack with Christmas tree, East 12th Street, New York City. December 1937. Photographer: Russell Lee. Tattered communities of the homeless coalesced in and around every major city in the country.
EXHIBIT F Upstairs bedroom of family on relief, Chicago, Illinois. April 1941. Photographer: Russell Lee.
EXHIBIT H A fifteen year old girl [Clairton, PennsylvaniaAcknowledged Mar. 1 1934] Dear Mrs. Roosevelt, I'm sorry this had to be written on funny paper. But honest its very funny to live I wished sometimes that I were dead. It was Sunday when I wrote this letter to you. I had just come up stairs to sleep I have been crying, so lease excuse my writing. On Sunday, I sit around and cry myself to sleep, I'm not aloud out never. I'm always in the house, no body comes to our house, because its so old fashioned and not a place for fun. I'm not aloud to buy books like True Stories or any other kind. I'm sick I hate life. I go with my girl friends to school sometimes But they don't appreciate me be¬cause I'm poor and haven't got clothes like they do I wished and wish for clothes I hope that some day I will enter a contest and win some money . . . I hate every thing now because life seems blind I love my mother dearly my dad works 3 dys a wk he gets $40a mth. But he has lot of old bills to pay from before when he did not work I wish I had work I would help my dad although he is mean to me As old as I am I still get beaten Well you would say (Why) because sometimes he gets drunk and starts to Beat us for silly things I'm sick And tired Dad buys me some things once in a great while. But how long I only have 3 dresses for school. One of my girl friends gives me shoes But O God Bless her. Please help me, Id like to get some nice clothes and some furniture for our house I want to brace up I want to go with my friends and show them kindness. I want to cooperate well with others . . . I want to be loved . . . Please Ans to M. S. . . . because I have a cousin that has the same name & she might get the Answer Please Answer Soon. Im 15 year old In 8th grade Don't show this letter to nobody Please Won't you help me dear Please send me some money so I can do some¬thing I want you to write to me as a friend Please write/Answer I would like to have an answer. Thank You. I'll be Your Friend forever Excuse my errors Source from Digital History
Exhibit I A child in Kansas Galena, KansasFebruary 5, 1936 Mr Mrs Franklin D Roosvelt Dear sir I am riling you about my Little Brother who sick see if could get you help send him to some hospial i see in paper where help other Little children i dont see how could Be any worse of then my Little Brother is my Little Brother be 5 years old June he cant walk are talk Are he cant feed his self he suck a Bottle only when mother feed him he just sit propt in chair that is all the county Dr said is just had him took where Be operated he thought get all rite some says he got Pralizes of Bone some say it from his spine he had Ricket when he Little never grew very much he had very Big now my dady had got any money send to hospital I thought rite ask you help send him mamma take up Capper hospital if had money pay way up there . . . hate see go through Life way he is my dady was on Relif roll Last Year . . . i am just m year old go stone school cherkee Gouty Kansas and our county seat Clombis Kansas and our county Dr name is Dr H. H. B. Clumbis Kansas if dont Believe about my Little Brother you write ask him . . . that reason riling you see help raise money for mamma take him away hoping hear from you soon tell me what think about him as do hate see him go through Life way he is i thought maby you might help as you other Little Children so will close hoping hear you soon send my Letters to T. L. Galena Kansas R z in care E. L. Galena Kansas R z that my dady name i be shore get your Letter from T. L. to Mr Mrs Roosevelt ans soon T. L. Source from Digital History
Exhibit J Beverly Cleary – recalls her experiences during the Depression Mother came into the living room. "Daddy has lost his job," she said softly. "The bank is dismissing the employees it took over from the West Coast National and has given them two weeks' notice." The Depression had come to us. Mother cleared the table and washed the dishes alone. I sensed she preferred solitude to help. I sat filled with anguish, unable to read, unable to do anything. When Dad finally emerged from the bedroom, I felt so awkward I did not know what to say or even how to look at him. To pretend nothing had happened seemed wrong, but seeing him so defeated and ashamed of defeat, even though he was not to blame, was so painful that I could not speak. How could anyone do such a thing to my father, who was so good, kind, reliable, and honest? A neighbor gave Mother an old pink woolen dress, which she successfully made over into a jumper for me. She contrived a cream colored blouse from something found in a trunk in the attic. One of her friends, now married to an eastern Oregon wheat rancher, had a daughter older than I who passed on two nice dresses. In our neighborhood, no girl would dream of entering high school in half socks. I used hoarded nickels and dimes to buy silk stockings. Five dollars from my Arizona uncle bought a raincoat .... We began admiring one another's clothes by saying, "Is it new, or new to you?“ Beverly Cleary, A Girl fromYamhill, 173, 174, 181, 182
James N. Rosenberg, Oct 29 Dies Irae ("Days of Wrath"), 1929Exhibit M
EXHIBIT G A 13-year-old boy The happy days I had spent in my home, Clinton, Mass., were real good days until one sad day the factory or mill in which my father had worked gave a notice that their factory would only operate three days a week. My father came home that day planning of what to do, because of the notice given him and the employees of the factory. As the days passed one after another my father was still at his plan thinking of where he could get a better position to support our family... My little sister and I tried to help my father in a way which we thought best. My little sister thought of helping the lady next door by taking care of the lady's baby while the lady went shopping. Thus she earned fifty cents. I tried to help my father by having a paper route after school hours. Thus I received my salary of one dollar and fifty cents per week. My little sister and I gave our salary to my father in order to help him and keep our home that we loved since we were very young. But now the factory only operated two days a week and our salary of two dollars a week wouldn't help my father any in buying our clothing and food. Source: Quoted in "What Unemployment Has Meant to My Family," in Marion Elderton, ed., Case Studies of Unemployment, 390, 391 source from Digital history
Ronald Ginther – watercolor Family of 10 live in 1 room
Manipulative for students • Clothing item made from flour sack • 2 tin cans connected by long string (walkie-talkie) • Marbles • Jacks
SEARCHING FOR CLUES Please answer questions about each primary source by downloading and printing the formatted case file and putting it into your detective’s log. •Written Document (PDF) •Photograph (PDF) •Motion Picture (PDF) •Sound Recording (PDF)
WHAT DO YOU SEE? WHAT DON’T YOU SEE? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
RAFT Chose a role from the chart above. If you would like to create your own, be sure to get the approval of the teacher. Remember to consult your detective’s log to include the evidence you uncovered throughout your research. Be sure to cite your resources.
Case Closed “I see millions of citizens – a substantial part of the whole population – who at this very moment are denied the greater part of … the necessities of life. I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.” Franklin Roosevelt 1937 2nd inaugural address The primary sources in this unit came from www.digitalhistory.com Chief Detectives on this case were Katrina Aiken, Robert Hodgson, and Carol Van Deusen