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Migrant Farmers in the 1930's
J Won 3 October 2012
Transcript of Migrant Farmers in the 1930's
This lead to a drop in the price of farm crops. In order to meet increased productivity demand, many farmers bought more land and expensive equipment, plunging themselves into debt. The Dust Bowl
and Beginning of
Migrant Farming By:
Emily Smith The increased farm activity caused the soil to erode. This erosion, along with a seven year drought, turned the formerly fertile land into a desert-like area known as the Dust Bowl. Hundreds of thousands of farmers, along with their families, migrated to California. For many people, it seemed like the promised land. Migrant workers came to be called okies, because although they were from many states across the Great Plains, 20% were from Oklahoma. The farmers who left the Great Plains for California were not met with fortune. There was a shortage of work, and low wages for what was available. For them, housing would be a tent, or a roughly constructed shack. There were 1.3 million people looking for work in California during the 1930’s, all at the same time. Now that’s a long job search, and we think we have it bad here. Many moved to California from Arkansas or Oklahoma to work on farms, earning generally only $0.60 per 100 pounds of product. This is a hard earning to live off of. In October 1933, 12,000 – 18,000 workers protested for a month, which backfired, since growers simply evicted those workers who decided to strike. Ultimately, being evicted, the workers set up tents that were organized by the Cannery and Agricultural Workers Industrial Union, which helped support and demonstrate their cause. How it relates to "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck John Steinbeck wrote knowledgeably about migrant workers because he lived at the time and place when this was a very common and essential part of life. Crooks says “I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hundreds of them.” (Steinbeck 74). The fact that many men had come and gone is very possible, though in 1937, when "Of Mice and Men" was published, the number of migrant farmers in California had reached its climax, and was already starting to decline. This time period was accurately represented by the fact that there were only about 5 farmers working on the ranch, instead of hundreds like there would have been a few years earlier, when combines weren’t so common. Nearing the end of the strike, with all the media attention (with what there was at the time – newspapers) the strikers and workers were forced to compromise on earning $0.75 per 100 pounds of product (cotton, grain, etc.) which is less than what the strikers wanted, at $1 per 100. But even though it was a huge movement at the time, in reality even back then $0.75 for 100 pounds, of say cotton, is terrible. That’s more work then we can even imagine, just making enough to survive ultimately. I know that the workers had been taking care of, with food and a bed every night, but what about those that had families or like Lennie and George were trying to save money to buy their own land? $0.75/100 pounds does not seem like much then, and when you shell out money for the extras that you may need in life or to support your family, that money would be gone in no time, at all.
George: “You remember about us goin’ into Murray and Ready’s, and they give us work cards and bus tickets?” (5) Agencies were set up in the 1930s to send the migrant workers where they were most needed, so that people would not travel to where there was no work for them to do and then just starve to death. Credible or Exaggerated? Slim: “You know how the hands are ... Never seem to give a damn about nobody.” (39) The vast majority of migrant farmers were single men who had no close family connections. The Strike Credible Exaggerated The migrant workers in Steinbeck's book lived acceptable lives, even if they weren’t exactly happy or filled with luxury. In reality, most of the workers at that time lived in tents or shacks with barely enough to eat. They had no money to pay union dues and would often die of hunger if they tried to protest the horrible working conditions. Also, in the book, it always says that the American dream never came to fruition because the men quit, then immediately went to town, gambled, spent their hard-earned money on “cat houses”, and just generally “blew their stake”. On the contrary, most of the men would stay somewhere as long as there was work, but the work often ran out before the men did. Migrant farmers were needed for seasonal agricultural work, so when a harvest or planting season was over, they would have to leave because there was nothing left for them to do, not because they just felt like quitting. There weren’t enough jobs for people to go around saying, “Oh, I’m getting tired of this job/town, let’s quit and get a new one!” Conclusion Some examples from the book: All in all, Steinbeck represented these times fairly well, but ended up twisting some of the details. The next video shows that he indeed knew the hard facts, he just chose not to write about a few aspects of that time period in "Of Mice and Men". Works Cited Samohsong. My grandfather working his combine in the early 1930s. N.d. Photograph. redbubble.comWeb. 1 Oct 2012. <http://www.redbubble.com/people/samohsong/works/7460970-my-grandfather-working-his-combine-in-the-early-1930s>. Clark, Tom. migrant farmer. N.d. Photograph. blogspot.comWeb. 1 Oct 2012. <http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/images/photodb/27-0686a.gif>. Adams, Ansel. Farm Workers. N.d. Photograph. anseladams.comWeb. 1 Oct 2012. <http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/images/photodb/27-0686a.gif>. IwannabelikeMJ. 1930s migrant workers in America . Youtube.com, 2011. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUBs1ncEra0>. UtahAgClassroom. Dust Bowl - A 1950s Documentary . 2011. Video. youtube.com Web. 1 Oct 2012. danieljbmitchell, , dir. Dorothea Lang's Famed Photo of a California Migrant Mother. Youtube.com, 2007. Film. 1 Oct 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RBewhoQu34&playnext=1&list=PLEA4A4A39DB4AEA5E&feature=results_main>. Hilgendorf, James, dir. John Steinbeck & The Grapes of Wrath . Youtube.com, 2008. Film. 1 Oct 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RBewhoQu34&playnext=1&list=PLEA4A4A39DB4AEA5E&feature=results_main>. Guthrie, Woody. Do Re Mi Ani Difranco Woody Guthrie cover swing set album. Youtube.com, 2009. Film. 1 Oct 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN_xvE79iXE>. Videos gmbudt. Dust Bowl Disaster Slideshow . Youtube.com, 2009. Film. 1 Oct 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN_xvE79iXE>. Gregory, James. ""The Dust Bowl Migration" Poverty Stories, Race Stories." http://faculty.washington.edu/. N.p., 2004. Web. 1 Oct 2012. Photos Websites englishresources.co.uk, n.d. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <http://lake-central.lcsc.us/userfiles/myra-lolkema/file/English 10/Of Mice and Men/OfMiceandMenFactsheet.pdf>. "Farm Labor in the 1930s ." http://migration.ucdavis.edu/. N.p., 2003. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <http://migration.ucdavis.edu/rmn/more.php?id=788_0_6_0http://woodlawnhs.bcps.org/greatdepression.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/prosemicemen/0prose_mice_men_contrev1.shtml>. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2007, Columbia University Press.
http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/bus/A0833129.html#ixzz285lESFNi Vachon, John. The picket line at the August 1938 King Farm strike in Morrisville, Pennsylvania.. N.d. Photograph. howstuffworks.comWeb. 1 Oct 2012. <http://money.howstuffworks.com/strike3.htm>. Fonds, H. A. Lewis. Case Tractor, 1930s. N.d. Photograph. http://scaa.sk.ca/Web. 1 Oct 2012. <http://scaa.sk.ca/gallery/kids/machinery/en_sources.php?s=small>. Migrant Worker Camp. N.d. Photograph. http://depts.washington.edu/Web. 1 Oct 2012. <http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/farmwk_ch4.htm>. Russell, Lee. White migrant worker living in camp with two other migrant men. 1939. Photograph. irwinator.comWeb. 1 Oct 2012. <http://www.irwinator.com/126/wdoc136.htm>. lithograph. N.d. Photograph. http://www.nps.gov Web. 1 Oct 2012. <http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/nj3/chap7.htm>. Living Conditions Farmers lived in difficult conditions. They got to "the promised land of California" only to find that, it too felt the effects of the Depression. Many labourers were turned away because of few job openings. Since, the large amount of workers came, it caused wages to drop, so even if the whole family was working, it still would not be enough to support them. Some luxuries and necessities had to be dropped. Some workers could not even afford housing. The workers would set up "ditchbank" camps in irrigation ditches. As you can guess, this led to public health problems. The work the farmers did was back-breaking work. It is so hard, even the most athletic of us would shy away from it today. They did this almost every day, and were paid very poorly. To resolve this, the FDA opened federally operated camps for migrant farmers. This helped greatly. Administrators were there, but the camp was run by the farmers. Civil activities were carried out by camp council and camp court. There was a sense of community there instead of being alone. Sometimes the workers would get together and play music and sing songs. There were many varieties of workers, and it showed in the music. Fanslow, Robert. "The Migrant Experience". http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/afctshtml/tsme.html. 1998. October 2, 2012 NA. "Migrant Farm Worker Conditions In North Carolina And In the United States". http://www.ncccusa.org/publicwitness/mtolive/conditions.html October 2, 2012 http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/S?ammem/toddbib:@field(DOCID(p020))