Station 1 Instructions

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Station 1 Instructions: Study the chart to answer the questions on the bottom half of the page.

Depression Era Unemployment Statistics





Percentage of
Labor Force














































  1. What is the chart showing?

  1. What unemployment pattern does the chart show?

  1. Study the change in the unemployment rate from 1933 to 1937. Based on this change, which option is most likely to be true?

    1. The government ran low on money and began to lay off government workers.

    2. Businesses continued to struggle because banks refused to give out loans.

    3. The government began to hire a large number of workers for various public works projects (building highways, improving public buildings, etc)

    4. Many of the unemployed people gave up on trying to find jobs.

  1. Which of the following options is the best conclusion we can draw about the state of the US economy from 1929 to 1937?

    1. The economy was strong throughout the period and most people were likely doing very well.

    2. The economy experienced a slight downturn but immediately bounced back.

    3. The economy gradually got worse and worse from 1929-1937.

    4. The economy quickly declined for the first few years and then gradually started to recover.

Gross National Product is a measure of the value of all the goods (things sold) and services in a country over the course of a year.

Instructions: Use the following chart showing America’s Gross National Product from 1926-1934 to answer the questions below.

  1. What was the value of all the goods and services in America in 1929?

  1. What happened to the amount of goods sold and services performed from 1929 to 1933?

  1. Based on the chart, how would you describe America’s economy in 1933?

  1. Identify two similarities between this graph and the chart on the previous page.

Station 2migration: the theme of the great depression

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People moved: to find jobs, sometimes to find food, and then they moved again, and sometimes again. Some returned home to live with relatives when the search for work ended with disappointment. Some moved because businesses went bankrupt, some moved because they couldn't pay their rent, some moved because they heard a rumor that it was better "there."

In The Grapes of Wrath (1939), his classic novel about the Great Depression, John Steinbeck described the huge amount of migration at the time:

"And then the dispossessed were drawn West—from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico; from Nevada and Arkansas, families, tribes, dusted out, tractored out. Car-loads, caravans, homeless and hungry; twenty thousand and fifty thousand and a hundred thousand and two hundred thousand. They streamed over the mountains, hungry and restless—restless as ants, scurrying to find work to do—to lift, to push, to pull, to pick, to cut—anything, any burden to bear, for food. The kids are hungry. We got no place to live. Like ants scurrying for work, and most of all for land."

In the book Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? The Great Depression 1929-1933, the author, Milton Meltzer, adds additional pictures of this time period:

"A child worked a twelve hours day in the cotton fields...a 50-year-old man walked the winter streets looking for work ...countless youths rode boxcars across America. People in soup kitchens, in flophouses, Hoovervilles, unmoving job lines, heatless apartments, and everywhere else stood helplessly by as the Great Depression struck down their dreams, killed their hopes, and crippled their lives."

Many of these people were youthful. As Meltzer explains, "Many boys and girls who failed to find jobs near home or felt they were a burden to their parents simply took to the road. A sight new to the 1930s was the army of young transients (people on the move). The Children's Bureau estimated that by late 1932 a quarter of a million under the age of twenty-one were roaming the country. They hopped freights (trains), bummed their food, and lived along the tracks.

3-2-1 Instructions:

  • Write a 3 sentence summary of the role that migration played in the Great Depression.

  • Identify 2 facts about the lives of children during the Great Depression.

  • Draw 1 picture showing what life was like for many people who decided to migrate during the Depression.

Station 3 Instructions: Read the selection below and respond to the questions at the bottom of the page.

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January 31, 1939.

Four Garrett children, the oldest a girl of fifteen, huddled at the door of the principal's office in the public school. When asked why they had been absent from school for five weeks, the children could give no intelligible answer. The idea uppermost in their minds was that their mother had told them to ask for free lunches. They were scantily clad for a November day. Their clothes were clean, but they seemed to have on little underclothing and to possess neither coats nor sweaters. Their shoes were full of holes. The group was obviously under-nourished, thin, pasty of complexion, anemic. One of the teachers describing them said, "They look just like poor little rats."

The principal reached for the telephone. He called the State Aid worker assigned to the school. "Mrs. Holt, look up the Garrett children; you know the address," he said. "Find out why they have been absent from school for five weeks, and why they wish to be put on the free lunch list. They are always asking for something."


  1. Based on what we learned about the Stock Market Crash and the conditions that led to the Great Depression, write a 1 paragraph story describing what happened to the Garrett family. What might the children have been doing in the five weeks they were absent from school?

  2. Considering the circumstances, should the government/ school provide free lunch for the Garrett children? Remember, the money has to come from somewhere (taxpayers like you and I).

Station 4 Instructions:

For each picture, complete the “Primary Source Analysis Tool” included in the folder. After you are finished, answer the following question:

  1. What was life like for many people during the Great Depression?

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migrantmother.jpg (82226 bytes)

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