The Great Depression - How We Coped, Worked and Played


History From Life Experience!

Eighty seniors of varied ethnic and social backgrounds reveal their courage, fears, hopes, hard work, ingenuity and their abilities to save, share and sacrifice—yes, and have fun, too-during our country’s most difficult years (from 1929 through 1941).

 * William lived with his father but was raised by the community.

* Eloise was never allowed to see her two siblings at the orphanage.

* Mary spent 12 years in which seemed like a prison, because children with handicaps were not allowed in public schools.

* Estelle made “top pay” compared with her co-workers: eight cents an hour for a 60-hour week.  The others got only six cents an hour.

* Selby saw first-hand the cruelty experienced by chain gangs.

* Alberta was mutilated by a white doctor more interested in his date than her fate.

* Although African Americans in South Carolina, neither Nancy nor Mamie felt the effects of the Depression.

* But Alex’s father activated his greatest asset: life insurance!


   Even so, the Depression was not always depressing:

     * Wesley lost his job—and was glad!

     * Lexie’s worst embarrassment: the day their outhouse burned!

     * Strom Thurmond took Irene to a dance-along with other girls!


The Great Depression taught us to appreciate small pleasures at the same time it was showing us how to overcome adversity.  From the remembrance of simple everyday events as these, this collection helps to remind us of the source of much of our education. 

William S. Powell, HistorianUniversity of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

This is real history—the real experiences of real people.  Survivors of the Depression and those of us of the generation just after will be reminded of what it was like.  Members of the current and future generations need to know what their people experienced, and this is a great place to learn.                                                   

Clyde N. Wilson, Historian, University of South Carolina - Columbia

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