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The 1930's

Social Topics of the 1930's



  • Mickey Mouse gets his first cartoon


  • "Little Orphan Annie" show appeared on the radio


  • "Esquire", the first magazine for men is created


  • "Mary Poppins" is written by P.L. Travers
  • "Anything Goes", Cole Porter's Musical on Broadway


  • Alchoholics Anonymous and its twelve step program is created


  • Porky Pig joins Looney Tunes
  • "Gone With The Wind" written by Margaret Mitchell


  • "Of Mice and Men" written by John Steinbeck
  • "The Hobbit" written by J.R.R. Tolkein


  • Superman arrives in comics


  • Batman, The Wizard Of Oz, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer were all created.


Fashion For Women:

In the '30's women had gone from a flapper look of the twenties to a more feminine style.
  • Hemlines dropped to ankle
  • Necklines were lowered and received dramatic attention. Often with wide edges or ruffled collars
  • Torsos were molded beneath square shoulders
  • Darts were replaced by soft gathers
  • Waists were turned to a natural waistline
  • Full skirts exentuated a small waist and minimized the hips
  • Dress bodices were designed with inset pieces and yokes

Fashion For Men

Instead of men changing their style The Great Wall Street Crash in October of 1929, it affected clothing business because there wasn't a lot of money to waste on clothing.
  • Suits modified to display a larger torso
  • Shoulders squared by using shoulder pads
  • Sleeves tapered to wrists
  • Double breasted suits became more popular rather than the Business Suits that were worn in the twenties.
  • Jackets had six to eight buttons, square shoulders, and ventless tails
  • Dark fabrics came out and were popular because they enhanced the torso
  • Plaids and checks became popular

"Organized" Crime

Mobs and Mobsters were very common in the 1930's. 1937 is the high-water mark for 'organized' crime. One of the most popular gangsters of the time, Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel was told to leave New York for the west cost to set up new gangs. Bugsy was a founder of one of the more popular gangs, Murder Inc. This gang was responsible for contract killings. Gang violence erupted in the streets of New York almost daily, dangering everyone in the state. Other famous gangsters of the 20's were Al Capone, "Baby Face" Nelson, and Bonny and Clyde.

Race Relations

Even though groups such as the Klu Klux Klan had an extreme decrease in the 1930's, race relations were still a big issue, especially in racist southern states. African Americans who had migrated to the north during the Great Depression and World War Two were causing increased tensions between the races. Discrimination, especially when it came to hiring for jobs, was very common, especially for African Americans and even Hispanic-Americans that were in the South. Many New Deal programs gave African Americans the chances they had often lacked in the past, while it also helped to bring daily struggles to light with Northerners.


Art in the 1930s was greatly influenced by Social, Political, and World events that were going on in that time era. Everything from the World Wars, to the Great Depression, to the rise of Nazism. One of the most famous paintings of this decade was American Gothic painted by Grant Wood in 1930. It is recognized by two older people, a man and a woman, standing in front of a house with a pitchfork in hand. It is the most common known art piece of this decade.
American Gothic by Grant Wood.

Political Topics of the 1930s

  • FDR
  • New Deals
  • 18th Amendment
  • 21st Amendment
  • Second Neutrality Act

Franklin D. Roosevelt

FDR was nominated to be President during the Great Depression, he brought hope and restored faith in the Americans of that time. In his Inaugural Address he spoke the famous line "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself..". The first issue he covered after being elected President was to use a program that would brign recovery to business and agriculture to get America up and moving. He realize dthat he had to get some of the thirteen million unemployed people to have jobs again. He was reelected in 1936 and made up new ideas to pull the Americans through the great Depression. He was the positive influence the country needed to regain hope and courage and pull through their roughest years.
Franklin Delanor Roosevelt

New Deals

The First New Deal

When FDR took his seat as the President on March 4, 1933, unemployment was at 25% nation wide. There was no federal welfare system, no federal unemployment insurance, and no public housing. Charitable organizations often run by churches and synagogues were where people turned to for help. IT became clear to the President that government-run relief efforts were required. Within exactly 150 days in office, FDR introduced fifteen major legislative bills to Congress, and all of them were passed. In the next two years Roosevelt took part on a vast array of relief and reform programs in an effort to place the US economy on its feet.

The Second New Deal

In 1935 Roosevelt decided to move to the political Left in what historians have labeled the “Second New Deal”. Less than two years into his first term, the economy of the US began to falter. Even though the federal government pumped millions of dollars into works projects and relief, the recovery had not yet taken place. Roosevelt orchestrated the beginning of the modern welfare state. His “Soak the Rich” progressive tax (which proposed taxes as heavy as 75% on the wealthiest Americans) and his efforts to rein the power of utility trusts marked a break with the relief policies of the previous two years. The key of the Second New Deal was the Social Security Act of 1935.

Social Security

The Social Security Act was passed August 14, 1935. IT was when the US legislation established a permanent national old-age pension system through employer and employee contributions. The system was later extended to include dependents, to the economic impact of the Great Depression. In 1934 President Roosevelt set up a committee on economic security to consider the matter; after studying its recommendations, Congress enacted the Social Security Act in 1935. It provided old-age benefits to be financed by a payroll tax on employers and employees. This Act has been periodically amended, expanding the types of coverage; bring progressively more workers in to the system, and adjusting both taxed and benefits in an attempt to keep pace with inflation.

Dust Bowl

The Dust Bowl is a section of the Great Plains of the United States that extends over southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, and the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and northeastern New Mexico. It received that name in the early 1930’s. The Dust Bowl usually receives no mare than twenty inches of rain per year, but in the early 30’s they had a severe drought that lasted for years. The topsoil of the ground was carried off by heavy spring winds. “Black Blizzards” of windblown dirt, sand, and dust blocked out the sun and piled the dirt in drifts. Occasionally the dust storms would carry to the east coast. Thousands of families were forced to leave the region at the height of the Great Depression in the early and mid 1930’s. It wasn’t until the early 1940’s that the land had started to recover.
A picture after a dust storm.

Second Neutrality Act

Passed in 1937, the Second Neutrality Act stated that United States Citizens could not sell arms to belligerents in Civil Wars. This applied to even the governmental people. This Act was passed and was resulted after the Spanish Civil War.

Amendment XVIII

Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited. Section 2. The Congress and the several states shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress. ***** This Amendment is the Prohibition Act/Law.

Amendment XXI

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed. Section 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited. Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress. ***** This Amendment repeals Amendment XXVIII.

International Events of the 1930's

  • Mahatma Ghandi
  • The Russian Famine
  • First Concentration Camp Opened
  • Jesse Owens
  • Spanish Civil War

Mahatma Ghandi

Mahatma Ghandi was born in 1869. He was raised and lived in India all his life, and he belived in nonviolence. One of Ghandi's more famous quotes is : "Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man." While Great Britain was threatening India, Ghandi protested by nonviolent acts such as marches. He also fasted for prayer purposes and another form of quiet protesting, which is what he is most famous for.
Mahatma Ghandi

The Russian Famine

In the thirties, Russia was under the ruling of Stalin. Because of his policies and the way he ran the country, millions of Russians died because of the famine that was happening in their country. This famine wasn't caused by nature, but by man. In 1928 Stalin came up with his first five year plan. The plan focused on accelerated industrialization. It was put together quickly, and as a result millions of dollars were wasted. When he realized the situation in 1930, he didn't rethink economic strategies, but he ordered more grain to be squeezed out of the peasantry. Because of the different strategies Stalin took, millions died. This famine lasted from 1932-1933.

First Concentration Camp Opened

The first concentration camp was opened in Dachau, Germany. It was acccomodated to fit five thousand persons. It started off by holding political prisoners, but later registered prisoners and soviet prisoners of war were being exectued by the thousands. The total number of those killed at this camp may never be known.

Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens was born and raised in Cleaveland, Ohio. He was a track star in High School and in College he was a Track and Field Star, even though he was an African American. He went to the 1936 Olympics (also called the Hitler Olympics because they were hosted in Berlin, Germany) He came home to the United States with four Gold Medals.
Jesse Owens

Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War took place from 1936-1939. It was a miliitary revolt against the Republican government of Spain, which was supported by elements inside the government. When an initial military coup failed to win control of the entire country, a bloody civil war ensued, fought with great ferocity on both sides. The Nationalists, as the rebels were called, received aid from fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. The Republicans received aid from the Soviet Union, as well as from International Brigades, composed of volunteers from Europe and the United States.

Economic Events of the 1930's

  • Banks Close
  • Bannk Of Canada
  • The Great Depression

Banks Close

In 1931 there was a world wide economic crisis. This crisis has been continuing throughout the 10's and 20's, but it got relatively worse when in 1931 all banks all over the world closed down.

The Bank Of Canada

By the early 1930s a gathering depression and concerns of settling international accounts risened, and Prime Minister R.B. Bennnett came up with the idea of a Central Bank. This central bank was founded in 1933, set up by roal commission to study the organization of banking system around the world. The commission recommended in its report that a central bank be established, and the Bank Of Canada was founded.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression took place..


  • Bondi, Victor "Media" American Decades : 1930-1939. 1995 ed. 243.
  • Bondi, Victor "Neutrality Act" American Decades : 1930-1939. 1995 ed. 213.
  • Bondi, Victor "The First New Deal" American Decades : 1930-1939. 1995 ed. 219.
  • Bondi, Victor "The Second New Deal" American Decades : 1930-1939. 1995 ed. 219.
  • "Social Security Act" Encyclopedia Britannica. 1998 ed. 923.
  • Worster, Daniel "Dust Bowl" World Book Encyclopedia. 2002 ed. 391.