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What was family life like in 1932 during FDR's First 100 Days?

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  • 7 years ago
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    it was an anxious time for most people. For the poorest it was terrible, many people had lost their homes, and some had to live in old cars, orange boxes, anywhere they could find to shelter. "I hwve seen fear grip the people in oir neighbourhood around Hull House' wrote Jane Addams.

    The average family income dropped 40 percent between 1929 and 1933, and many men tried to find second jobs or find employment in an oversaturated market, while their wives struggled with what Eleanor Roosevelt called "endless little economies and constant anxieties". At the bottom of the middle class, people worried about losing their homes and falling back into the class of renters - in Indianapolis, more than half the families with mortgages had defaulted on them by 1934.

    the country had had other econimic crises, but this was the first to arrive since America had developed a large urban middle class who were dependent on waged income and believed that the necessities of life included not just food and shelter, but also electricity, indoor plumbing, and an automobile. few of these people went hungry or homeless during the Depression, but they lived in a constant state of fear and diminished expectation. Diana Morgan, a North Carolina college student, felt "the world was falling apart" when she came home for Christmas vacation and found the phone had been disconnected. Children were shocked by seeing their fathers put on overalls for work instead of a suit, or a mother trying to sell door-to-door products. The writer Caroline Bird said her worst memory was of seeing a friend of the family, who had been a proud captain in the US Navy, taking tickets at a neighbourhood movie theatre.

    despite general disapproval of married women working (it was thought single women needed jobs, but married women should be supported by their husbands), the number of married women who worked continued to increase throughout the decade. Athough most of these were struggling to keep poor families above water, a number were middle class and were attempting to preserve the good things they had gotten used to since WW1 - like electric lights and gas stoves, and the ability to keep their children in school. it was an important cultural shift that sent women into the workforce in larger and larger numbers.

    Source(s): America's Women, 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines by Gail Collins
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