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1929-1939: The Great Depression

1934 International Longshoremen's Association and General Strikes of San Francisco Longshoremen and Pickets, Picket parade For California, the nation, and the world, the 1930s was a period of particularly hard times. The US stock market crash of 1929 set off the most severe economic depression in the Western world. In the American Midwest, this was compounded by a severe drought that destroyed crops and farms. Of the 2.5 million Dust Bowl immigrants who left the Plains states, about 200,000 moved to California. They joined a population that was already facing massive unemployment and low wages. During the Great Depression, labor issues were commonplace and strikes occurred frequently. One of the best known was the 1934 San Francisco General Strike. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal offered ordinary Americans relief and help by funding a range of public works projects and regional development of bridges, dams, and power plants.


Dust Bowl Migration
Hard Times
Help and a New Deal
San Francisco General Strike
Building Bridges, Dams, Power Plants
Everyday Life in Hard Times New!

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Explore primary source sets about the Great Depression:

Bridges, Harry
Roosevelt, Franklin Delano
Great Depression
Great Depression, Hooverville
Hearst, William Randolph
Hoover, Herbert
Irrigation projects
Social Security
Strike, General Strike of 1934

California Cultures

Learn more about California's diversity in the 20th century.