The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, lasting from 1929 to 1939. It began after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. Over the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, causing steep declines in industrial output and employment as failing companies laid off workers. By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its lowest point, some 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half of the country’s banks had failed. (I remember that my Grandmother lost her life savings that would have kept her comfortable in her old age.) Many Americans forced to buy on credit fell into debt, and the number of foreclosures and repossessions climbed steadily. The global adherence to the gold standard, which joined countries around the world in a fixed currency exchange, helped spread economic woes from the United States throughout the world, especially Europe. People had to join breadlines to have food, if they lost their job and did not find another. If they had a job, they were forced to work for less money. Many people lost their homes, savings, hope and committed suicide. When Roosevelt (FDR) was elected president in 1933 he promised a “New Deal”. Among the programs and institutions of the New Deal that aided in recovery from the Great Depression were the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) a permanent jobs program that employed 8.5 million people from 1935 to 1943. (I worked in a school library repairing books.) Many people were employed in courthouses transcribing records for which the researcher is thankful.
From Jauflione Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution