Down and Out in the Great Depression: Letters from the "Forgotten Man"

By Robert S. McElvaine | Go to book overview

Preface

What follows is not, despite the volume's title, the story of a singular "forgotten man." There was too much diversity among the down and out of the Depression for such a term to be accurate. Rather, it is a collection of portions of the stories of 173 forgotten men, women, and children of the 1930s. It is an attempt to let these people speak for themselves. They have been forgotten for so long not because they were silent but because their stories were not valued as they should have been.

The book is based on the belief that the social history of a people in a given historical period must begin with the testimony of the people themselves. "If you want Negro history," a former slave once told a Fisk University interviewer, "you will have to get [it] from somebody who wore the shoe, and by and by from one to the other you will get a book."1 This is a wise method. What follows is an effort to employ it in the case of victims of the Great Depression.

The "nameless masses" of the thirties are treated herein as individuals. The initials of those who signed their letters are given to show that the writers were genuine historical actors, not merely props in a play directed entirely from above them. The letters are reproduced exactly as they were written, not for the amusement of readers, but in order to give an accurate impression of the writers and the full flavor of their stories. No ridicule is intended.

The letters contained in the book were selected from the following manuscript collections: the President's Emergency Committee on Employment Central Files, the President's Organization for Unemployment Relief General Correspondence, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration Central Files, and the Civil Works Administration Administrative Correspondence Files, all in the National Archives, Washington, D. C., the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y., the Robert F. Wagner Papers in the Georgetown University Library, Washington, D.C., and the Norman Thomas Papers in the New York Public Library.

Included with the letters reproduced in the book is a small selection of the photographic art of the 1930s. This rich source has only recently begun to receive its due consideration by historians. The photographs can provide an

-xi-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Down and Out in the Great Depression: Letters from the "Forgotten Man"
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - The Early Depression 33
  • Chapter 1 - Reactions to Hoover and Economic Breakdown 35
  • Part II - Conditions of Life in the Thirties 49
  • Chapter 2 - Proud but Frightened: Middle-Class Hardship 51
  • Chapter 3 - The Grass Roots: Rural Depression 67
  • Chapter 4 - A Worse Depression: Black Americans in the 1930s 79
  • Chapter 5 - To Be Old, Sick, and Poor 95
  • Chapter 6 - The Forgotten Children 113
  • Part III - Reactions to the Depression 121
  • Chapter 7 - Attitudes toward Relief 123
  • Chapter 8 - The Conservative 143
  • Chapter 9 - The Desperate 155
  • Chapter 10 - The Cynical 173
  • Chapter 11 - The Rebellious 183
  • Part IV - The "Forgotten Man" Looks at Roosevelt 201
  • Chapter 12 - The Unconvinced 203
  • Chapter 13 - Our Savior 215
  • Notes 235
  • Sources of Letters 243
  • Index 247
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 254

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.