Jack Delano took this color transparency, depicting eroded Georgia farmland, during October of 1940. A severe drought had worsened the impact of the Great Depression on American families. Image online via the Library of Congress.


The Great Depression caused many suicides, massive unemployment, disrupted lives and destroyed fortunes. But:

  • What caused the Great Depression?
  • Why were so many people out of work?
  • Why were thousands of families forced to uproot and migrate to places like California?
  • And ... why did the Great Depression last so long?

Knowledgeable people have debated these questions ever since the Great Depression. Some economists conclude that wild stock market speculation contributed to the nightmare. (1929 headlines, from The New York Times, show economists were seriously debating the strength of the market in the days before the crash.)

President Hoover thought the depression was caused by the disruptions of World War I, the poor structure of American banks and the failure of Congress to act on many of his proposals. Still others blamed Hoover himself, and the policies of his administration.

At the time, people throughout the world cared more about finding ways to survive than they cared about finding reasons for the cause of the economic decline. Songs of the day, (like 1932's Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?  reflect anguish but other tunes (All of Me and On the Sunny Side of the Street ) demonstrate human resiliency.

Government intervention (introduced by Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal") helped, but America remained in the grip of the Great Depression until 1941.

Not until World War II, when millions of men were drafted—and millions of women went to work in factories to support the war effort—did the United States emerge from its darkest economic downturn.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jun 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: Apr 13, 2018

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"CAUSES OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION" AwesomeStories.com. Jun 01, 2004. Jan 18, 2020.
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