Today in Labor History

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Archive for the tag “great depression”

February 23, 1940

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Woody Guthrie writes “This Land Is Your Land” following a trip hitchhiking and riding the rails from California to New York. It was a musical response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”: “We can’t just bless America, we’ve got to change it.”

January 3, 1931

Floyd Burroughs with Children (2)

Drought and the Great Depression causes hundreds of angry farmers to converge on the town of England, Arkansas, demanding that the Red Cross give them the assistance that had been promised to feed the starving members of their community. When his appeals to President Herbert Hoover for federal aid were dismissed, Will Rogers – who read about the situation in England in the newspaper – embarked on a tour for drought relief.

July 11, 1936

AFD 186624After seven years of construction, the Triborough Bridge opens in New York City, connecting the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens. 2,700 construction workers worked on the $60 million project, financed in part through the Public Works Administration through much of the Great Depression.

May 3, 1932

cumberThe National Farmers’ Holiday Association (FHA) is founded by Milo Reno, former president of the Iowa Farmers’ Union. The FHA fought foreclosures, sometimes by blocking the roads and physically preventing a sheriff from selling a farmer’s home and land. Other times, they held penny auctions, where everyone refused to bid more than a few pennies for the farm. The farm would then be given back to its original owner with no debt and the bank would only be a few cents richer.

February 11, 1930

jobs-cleveland-lines-1930jpg-6da02057f6df58e52,000 unemployed workers storm the Cleveland City Hall, dispersing only when the police threaten to turn fire hoses on them. With over 4 million jobs lost within months of the Stock Market crash in late October 1929, unemployed workers took to the streets to demand work and food. Similar actions happened in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles throughout just this month alone.

August 23, 1932

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Following cuts in funding during the Great Depression, the Seattle Public Library Board of Trustees votes not to employ married women. Nine women were fired because their husbands had jobs. Ten years later, the Board allowed newly-married female employees to retain their jobs, but they were placed on one-year probation like new hires.

July 4, 1930

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Delegates at a National Conference of the Unemployed in Chicago form the Unemployed Councils. The Councils were instrumental in resisting evictions of unemployed workers and in organizing unemployed strikes to pressure state and local governments to expand relief aid and relief work during the Great Depression.

April 14, 1939

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John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath, is published: the story of a family of Oklahoma sharecroppers who migrate to California looking for relief from the economic devastation caused by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.

January 3, 1931

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Drought and the Great Depression cause hundreds of angry farmers to converge on the town of England, Arkansas, demanding that the Red Cross give them the assistance that had been promised to feed the starving members of their community.  When his appeals to President Herbert Hoover for federal aid were dismissed, Will Rogers – who read about the situation in England in the newspaper – embarked on a tour for drought relief.

August 5, 1931

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Fifteen hundred jobless men storm the plant of the Fruit Growers’ Express Company in Indiana Harbor, Indiana, demanding that they be given jobs to keep them from starving.  The company responded by calling the police, who arrived with clubs and dispersed the men.  [Photo:  publicity still of Richard Barthlemass in William Wellman’s Heroes for Sale (1933).]

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