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The Great Depression - Cause of America's rural crisis

Assignment 8: The Great Depression
If choosing assignment 6 complete ONE of the following: (A), (B), (C), (D), (E), (F).Reading/Viewing Assignments:Flyover History, Readings 26, 27, 28, 29.
Website: Homestead Act (Links to an external site.)


Film: The Grapes of Wrath, based on the novel by John SteinbeckInstructor's Introduction:Small towns are disappearing all across America. They have been for over one-hundred years. Farmers are going out of business, losing their land. Schools in small towns are threatened by declining enrollments and financial crisis.

A casual drive through many areas of Texas, for example, speaks to the reality faced by folks in rural areas nationwide: these towns and farms are disappearing.There is no way to get a handle on all of the changes facing rural America: urbanization, technology, science, and the always difficult economics of farming all share the blame. Ironically, the root cause of America's rural crisis may be rural America's sheer abundance. Yes.

Farmers are going broke because they are too good at what they do. Farmers produce SO MUCH food and related agricultural products, that the PRICE they get for their labors keeps dropping. They've become victims of their own hard work.During the Great Depression, America saw its whole economic system brought to its knees. Farmers were hit from all angles. Commodity prices were low, tenancy was high.

Farming was rapidly changing, forcing people to either keep up, or drop out. Wage-earners in the city had long since passed the small farmer by. City workers usually made more money, they had a higher standard of living, and had more political clout. During the Great Depression, things got worse for the farmer. Many lost their land. Families often broke apart.

The city, and the factory jobs they held, beckoned. Most people who left rural areas never looked back...With this theme, my goal is to touch on some of the major events surrounding the "changing face of rural America" during the last century or so. While change has always been a celebrated given in our nations' cities, conservative folks down on the farm have always viewed rapid change with suspicion, and understandably so. In 1920, half of this country's people lived on farms.

Today, less than two percent of this nations' population is actively involved in the farming sector of the economy. In just over one-hundred years, then, the farming sector of this nation has been totally transformed. The social and political (not to mention environmental) costs from this change have taken their toll. Since World War II, people have continued to leave the farm and small town. Family farmers, and the small towns that support them, are dying out. With them go the schools, churches, businesses, and in some cases, the histories of millions of people.Tid-bits of History: The Jobs of Yesteryear (Links to an external site.) Obsolete Occupations: As computers and automated systems increasingly take the jobs humans once held, entire professions are now extinct.

Click through the gallery to see examples of endangered professions, from milkman to telegrapher, and hear from people who once filled those oft-forgotten jobs.  Homesteader's outside their "Soddie" (a house made of dirt!) Note:(A) requires TWO short essays. Students will still need another Essay for full credit. (A) Free Land!!The Homestead Act(Links to an external site.)was one of the most important laws ever passed by Congress.

In ONE Essay, please answer the following: What was the Homestead Act? What did it do? How did it work? Who benefited? Who failed?

"The Homestead Act made legal what many Americans had felt was their birthright since earliest times - free land in the West.Flyover History,

Chapter 27:In ONE Essay, answer the following:How does Robert Caro portray the life of rural Texans before the R.E.A.?How did Texas Hill Country people view Franlin Roosevelt and his New Deal programs?Why is Chapter 27 entitled "The Sad Irons"?  bonusarmy.jpgBonus Army camp, Washington, D.C., Summer of 1932 (B) The "Bonus Army" War in Washington Flyover History, Reading 29Picture this: U.S. Army Generals Douglas MacArthur and George Patton leading their well-trained soldiers against - American World War I Veterans? On American soil?

No matter how many times you try to imagine this event, it still seems unbelievable. But it happened. And it helped change this nation's history. Read Flyover History, Reading 29, and answer the following in ONE essay:Who was Wright Patman, and what did he advocate?


Who exactly were the "Bonus" marchers? What did they want?
Why was President Hoover against the idea of paying the marchers their bonus?


What was the role, if any, of the Communist Party of America in this event?
What is the author's opinion of Douglas MacArthur? Herbert Hoover?
How did MacArthur justify the treatment of the marchers, according to the author?


How did Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt differ in their treatment of the marchers?


  dustbowlmap.gif (C) The Dust BowlIt is impossible to boil down a complicated event like the Great Depression into one work of art. For many Americans, the Great Depression is an abstraction, something to be read about or seen in a movie. It is not an event we KNOW. Do Americans know what really happened during the 1930's? We have come to know this time through the work of film-makers, artists, musicians, and writers. ART has become the prism through which we interpret the past.

Most people don't read great American fiction anymore, but they due view film.View these youtubes below.One is a 22-minute youtube film Surviving the Dust Bowl.Another is a short 20-minute song about the Dust Bowl by folk singer Woody Guthrie.Then there are the photographs of photographer Dorathea Lange.After viewingthe videos create 3 essay questions based upon what you saw, and then write answers to your own essay questions.Extra:NPR Report on John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (Links to an external site.)Video:Surviving the Dust Bowl (PBS) (Links to an external site.)


 (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)Dorothea Lange (Links to an external site.) used the camera as her interpretive instrument. Readers of Life Magazine (Links to an external site.) and other popular photo-journalistic publications gleaned their news - and views of the Great Depression from Ms. Lange's photographs, such as the "Migrant Mother".

Look at some of Dorothea Long's photos (Links to an external site.). What were Dorothea Lange's politics? What did she want viewers of her photographs to see? What does the photograph of "Migrant Mother" make you think and feel?


Youtube: Dorothea Lang (Links to an external site.)
Woody Guthrie(Links to an external site.)questioned America's commitment to its own people and ideals. He saw lots of things as a hobo/train-riding folk-singer, jumping trains illegally from state to state. Like many people during the Great Depression, Guthrie blamed the government for not doing enough to help the poor. Youtube:Woody Guthrie's Talking Dust Bowl Blues (Links to an external site.)


 (D) When America Sent Her Own Packing (Links to an external site.)Flyover History, Reading 28: This article focuses on everyday people, and the events that witnessed "the repatriation" of thousands of Mexican-Americans "back" to Mexico during the Great Depression. In the 1930's, Mexican-Americans were forcibly removed from their country- the United States. Some were naturalized citizens, while others were born within America's borders. And few people outside the Mexican-American communities did anything to halt this violation of their civil liberties. Read the online article above.

Answer some or all of these questions in ONE 2 page essay:What is repatriation? How does it differ from deportation?
During the early years of the twentieth century, why were Mexican immigrants encouraged to enter the United States?


What factors contributed to anti-immigration sentiment toward Mexicans and Mexican-Americans during the Great Depression?
Why did Mexico encourage repatriation of Mexican-Americans? Did it work out as the Mexican government plan? How were repatriates viewed by Mexican citizens?


What was the goal of the National Repatriation Committee in 1933?
What role does oral history play in telling this story?
Image result for emma tenayucaEmma Tenayuca, pecan strike leader(E) San Antonio Pecan Sheller's Strike of 1938“ I was arrested a number of times. I never thought in terms of fear. I thought in terms of justice.”-Emma Tenayuca (1916-1999)Students often ask what was happening in San Antonio during the era we are discussing. American historians have tended to look at our past through national politics rather than focusing on "the little people"- the everyday man and woman... or as Franklin Roosevelt called them "the common people."As you read about The 1938 San Antonio Pecan Shellers Strike (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and Unintended Consequences: The San Antonio Pecan Shellers Strike of 1938 (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.,you will recognize that these Depression-era people were extraordinary... especially their leader Emma Tenayuca (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

How Did Mexican working women assert their rights in the 1938 San Antonio Pecan Sheller's Strike? What did you learn from this incident?How do you react to the blacklisting? (Links to an external site.)Had you ever heard of Emma Tenayuca (Links to an external site.) before? If you had- when did you learn about her and from whom? If you had not- why not? Ask some older family members, if they ever heard of Emma Tenayuca and the Pecan Shellers strike of 1938? Why is the topic of local San Antonio history been largely forgotten?View a few photos of San Antonio life during the Great Depression (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..How do these photos provide historical perspective of the lives of Mexican-Americans? (F) San Antonio's "Red

Light" DistrictThroughout the early 1900s, prostitution flourished in San Antonio and in many Texas cities. The state of Texas passed legislation in 1907 permitting all cities to designate areas within their municipalities to control vice activities such as prostitution and gambling. The law allowed cities to enact ordinances.However, even with this new legislation, San

Antonio did not legalize prostitution or attempt to control it. Like many cities across the United States, San Antonio balanced a growing tension between the trade and reformers who embraced Victorian values. The growing number of military troops brought great business to the district.Rail lines took customers directly into the district; the Blue Book told them to “Take I. & G. N. and San Fernando cars.” The boldness of the printing and the use of the Blue Book exposed the polarized beliefs of early twentieth century society in San Antonio. - “'For Those Seeking a Good Time while in San Antonio, Texas' –

The Restrictions and Permissions of Bawdy Houses from 1889-1941" (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. -Jennifer Cain (Source: http://www.uiw.edu/sanantonio/prostitution.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.)That's a Texas history you probably didn't learn in 7th grade.I know my children never shared any such revelations with me when they were in middle school.They just might have paid better attention in class if they did.(The woman on the right is Madam Fannie Porter (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..One "who was described as a 'hard and shrewd woman' was also known to chase police officers from her place with a broom.

When the census was taken in 1900, Fannie’s 'boarding house' was called home to five women, ranging in age from nineteen to twenty-four.)Assigned Readings:San Antonio Sporting District (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.


“'For Those Seeking a Good Time while in San Antonio, Texas' – The Restrictions and Permissions of Bawdy Houses from 1889-1941" (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.by Jennifer Cain
"Prostitution in Texas: From the 1830s to the 1960s" (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. by David C. Humphrey


 In David McComb's 2012 book- Spare Time in Texas: Recreation and History in the Lone Star State (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., "the author argues that how people spend their leisure time may well reveal more about their true natures and interests than the work they do or their family connections. In this innovative book, McComb traces the history of various types of recreation in Texas, gathering significant insights into the characters of Texans from the pleasures they have pursued. Reflecting the frontier origins of Texas, McComb starts with the recreations that were most popular with men in a crude, still-developing society—drinking, gambling, and whoring."(source: https://books.google.com/books?id=mlBM2gHdRWkC (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.)For this essay, reflect on how your thoughts on San Antonio history have changed by doing this assignment.Why did prostitution thrive in our city?

What factors contributed to its popularity?What factors led to its prohibition?Discuss the readings with older family members about this topic.Did they know that San Antonio had a thriving red light district (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. for many years?If so, how did they learn about it?How did your ancestors spend their leisure time?How do you spend yours?Depicted above are pages from William Keilman’s 1911 Blue Book.The top left image is the cover page of the pamphlet, the page on the top right is a sample of an advertising page, with an advertisement from the brothel house of madam Lillian Revere in the center.

Most advertisements from madams in the blue book appeared in the center of the other advertisements.The bottom images are examples of listing pages with “Class A” and “Class C” brothels which include their address and phone number. -“'For Those Seeking a Good Time while in San Antonio, Texas' –

The Restrictions and Permissions of Bawdy Houses from 1889-1941" (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. -Jennifer Cain (Source: http://www.uiw.edu/sanantonio/prostitution.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.)This 1888 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map denotes a red circle which designates the first bawdy house to appear within the de facto Sporting District in San Antonio.Comments from Customer
Discipline: HIST-1302-144

The Great Depression - Cause of America's rural crisis

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