In the U.S., the Great Depression started in 1929 and lasted through most of the 1930s.
What was it like to live during the Depression?
Massive unemployment had a profound social and emotional impact upon American workers and their families. […] The great population movement of the thirties was transiency the worker adrift in a sea of unemployment. People, especially the young, girls as well as boys, took to the road because they could no longer bear to stay home. In the middle of the decade when the dust blew in the Great Plains, wiping out their farms, whole families of Okies, Arkies, and Mizoos migrated west, especially to California. The migrants often made their way to the junk-pile Hoovervilles with their Prosperity Roads, Hard Times Avenues, and Easy Streets. The destitute often lost their homes or farms because they were unable to make payments on mortgages.
One fascinating fact I discovered not long ago is that a small number of babies born during the Great Depression were actually named Depression.
At least three of these babies made the news:
- In the New York Times: Norma Depression Jacobs, a baby girl born in New York to parents Joseph and Sally Jacobs in early 1932.
- In the Reading Eagle: Viola Depression Davis, a baby girl born in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, in 1932.
- In the New York Times: Franklin Depression Pasquale, a baby boy born in New York in 1933. (Franklin was for President Roosevelt, whose presidency began in March of 1933 — “the worst month for joblessness in the history of the United States.”)
And here are more baby Depressions I tracked down using other sources:
- Robert Depression Cann, born in Oklahoma on October 22, 1931.
- Joyce Depression Bradford, born in Texas on December 5, 1931.
- Robert Depression Arnold, born in California on February 2, 1932.
- Helen Depression Carr, born in Indiana on February 29, 1932.
- Hoover Depression Norman, born in Texas on June 14, 1932. (Hoover was in office from 1929 to 1933.)
- Depression Heaton, born Ohio on June 24, 1932. (Born and died the same day, sadly.)
- William Depression Ellerby, born in North Carolina on August 5, 1932.
- Depression Brockington, born on October 21, 1932.
- Depression Ivy, born in Texas on May 28, 1934.
- Percy Depression Giles, born in West Virginia circa 1934.
- Depression Austin, born in North Carolina circa 1934.
- Depression Red, born in Georgia circa 1934. (The sister born right after her was named “Beauty.” Quite the disparity.)
- Depression Bennett, born in Alabama on February 10, 1938.
I also found two baby Depressions born in the 1870s, during an earlier period of economic recession now called the Long Depression.
- “Baby Will Know of Depression; In Fact, It’s Her Middle Name.” New York Times 19 Jan. 1932.
- Bernstein, Irving. “Americans in Depression and War.” The U.S. Department of Labor Bicentennial History of The American Worker, Ed. Richard B. Morris. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976.
- “Child, Named for President, Called Franklin Depression.” New York Times 3 May 1933.
- “Parents Name Baby Viola Depression.” Reading Eagle 26 Oct. 1932: 9.