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The Grapes of Wrath Background

Students will view several background items in order to better understand the setting, time period, and plot of the book

Ryan Woods

on 1 February 2013

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Transcript of The Grapes of Wrath Background

The Great Depression Hooverville Route 66 Dust Bowl Isn't that ironic? The Roaring 20s The Depressed 30s Presidents Economics Volstead Act Music Salaries Unemployment 28. Woodrow Wilson
Born: December 29, 1856, Staunton, Virginia.
Died: February 3, 1924.
Party: Democratic.
Age when inaugurated: 56.
Term: 1913-1921. After initially opposing World War I (1914-1918), Wilson led the U.S. into the war and drafted the peace plan that ended it. Wilson then fought to create the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations.
Famous Fact: Wilson was the first President to hold a news conference.

29. Warren G. Harding
Born: November 2, 1865, near Blooming Grove, Ohio.
Died: August 2, 1923.
Party: Republican.
Age when inaugurated: 55.
Term: 1921-1923. Harding died in office, just as massive corruption in the Teapot Dome scandal was about to become public. Because of these scandals, Harding is regarded as the worst President.
Famous Fact: Harding's election was the first in which women voted.

30. Calvin Coolidge
Born: July 4, 1872, Plymouth Notch, Vermont.
Died: January 5, 1933.
Party: Republican.
Age when inaugurated: 51.
Term: 1923-1929. Coolidge's term was marked by economic prosperity. However, he ignored signs that the stock market was likely to collapse.
Famous Fact: Coolidge was known as "Silent Cal." Once a reporter said to him, "I bet my editor I could get more than two words out of you." Coolidge replied: "You lose." 31. Herbert C. Hoover
Born: August 10, 1874, West Branch, Iowa.
Died: October 20, 1964.
Party: Republican.
Age when inaugurated: 54.
Term: 1929-1933. The stock market crashed a few months into Hoover's term. The Great Depression that followed was widely and some say unfairly blamed on Hoover.
Famous Fact: Hoover organized relief efforts in Europe after both World Wars.

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Born: January 30, 1882, Hyde Park, New York.
Died: April 12, 1945.
Party: Democratic.
Age when inaugurated: 51.
Term: 1933-1945. Roosevelt led the nation out of the Great Depression of the 1930s and to victory in World War II (1941-1945). He also greatly expanded the size and role of the federal government through his New Deal social programs.
Famous Fact: Roosevelt is the only President elected four times. Presidents Economics Blaine Act Music Salaries Unemployment
The economics of the United States in the 1920s fascinates many historians because of the decade's association with both boom and bust. The early parts of the decade saw a roaring strong economy after World War I, but 1929 would mark the stock market's crash and the beginning of the Great Depression. According to Gene Smiley of Marquette University, the 1920s remain overlooked despite being the first modern decade, thanks in large part to the dramatic economic development of those years.
A time of financial hardship, drought and political turmoil, the 1930s opened with large numbers of families struggling to keep food on their tables and closed with the United States entering World War II. Unemployment peaked at 25 percent. To preserve precious resources and money, families took renewed interest in the principles and aims of home economics: sewing, cooking, cleaning and thrift. The National Prohibition Act of 1919 (commonly called the Volstead Act) was enabling legislation enacted to provide for the implementation of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which established National Prohibition of alcoholic beverages. The Blaine Act, approved February 17, 1933 by the United States Senate, ended the prohibition of alcohol in the United States that began in 1919 by modifying the Volstead Act to allow "3.2 beer" (3.2% alcohol by weight, 4% by volume). Other related archives1919, 1933, February 17, United States, United States Senate, Volstead Act, prohibition Jazz, Ragtime and Broadway musicals were popular facets of 1920's music.
Jazz gained popularity in America and worldwide by the 1920s. Nothing quite like it had ever happened before in America. New exuberant dances were devised to take advantage of the upbeat tempo's of Jazz and Ragtime music.

By the mid-1920s, jazz was being played in dance halls and roadhouses and speakeasies all over the country. Early jazz influences found their first mainstream expression in the music used by marching bands and dance bands of the day, which was the main form of popular concert music in the early twentieth century.

Meanwhile, radio and phonograph records — Americans bought more than 100 million of them in 1927 — were bringing jazz to locations so remote that no band could reach them. And the music itself was beginning to change — an exuberant, collective music was coming to place more and more emphasis on the innovations of supremely gifted individuals. Improvising soloists, struggling to find their own voices and to tell their own stories, were about to take center stage. In 1936 the Department of the Interior hired Woody Guthrie to travel throughout the Northwest and perform his folk songs. During this tour he wrote twenty-six songs in twenty-six days. By 1938 Guthrie was making appearances in support of labor unions and wrote such songs as "I Ain't Got No Home", inspired by visits to migrant labor camps.

Recession songs are a rich part of American music history. With the stock market falling farther every day, more and more of us are starting to feel the crunch of the plummeting Dow. Of course, this is not the first time our country (and the greater world) has found itself falling on hard economic times, and there are plenty of songs about tightening one's budget.

"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" by EY Harburg and Jay Gorney
This is one of the most popular songs left over from the Great Depression, and was written in 1932. The lyrics talk from the point of view of the average American worker who built the railroad and other areas of modern industry and then were discarded from their jobs after the stock market crash.

They used to tell me I was building a dream.
And so I followed the mob When there was earth to plow
Or guns to bear I was always there right on the job.
They used to tell me I was building a dream
With peace and glory ahead.
Why should I be standing in line just waiting for bread?
The year 1920 marked the beginning of the legendary Roaring Twenties. The U.S. population had boomed to more than 106 million but only 6 percent were literate. More than 2 million people were unemployed and the life expectancy was virtually equal between men and women at about 54 years of age. The end of the decade saw the beginning of the Great Depression preceded by the stock market crash in 1929.

The average annual salary of an American worker in the year 1920 was $1,236. The '20s are generally regarded as a prosperous time for the U.S. economy. The job market benefited from an influx of new citizens and unemployment was at a low 5.2 percent. In urban areas, laborers in the manufacturing and construction sectors held the most promise for the predominantly uneducated workforce of 1920. Known as the decade of the Great Depression, the 1930s have come to represent the worst economic time in the history of the United States. Not only was the employment rate very high throughout the course of the decade but even those who were employed were paid relatively low wages, though prices were also low enough at the time to keep these working from absolute poverty.

Wages were very different depending on professions during the 1930s. Cooks were some of the lowest paid wage earners and could expect to make wages of about $0.35 an hour. Skilled workers like bricklayers, electricians, or ironworkers, on the other hand, could make as much as $1.30 an hour, while doctors might make $1.50 an hour or more.

Minimum Wage
Throughout most of the 1930s, there was no such thing as a minimum wage: employers could pay laborers as much as they were willing. However, under President Roosevelt, who championed workers and sought desperately to get the country out of depression, a minimum wage eventually arrived. In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act introduced the nation's first minimum wage of $0.25 an hour.

Cost of Living
While the wages during the Great Depression might seem quite low by today's standards, the cost of living at the time was much different at the time and the decade's low wages were relatively manageable for those lucky enough to work. For example, New York City tenement apartments costed about $18 a month, which was the average weekly wage for many marginally skilled workers.

Food was much cheaper, though scarcer, than it is today, and other household items were also a lot cheaper. Sweaters cost only about $1, gas stoves cost about $20, and mechanical toys were less than $1 each. So, as long as you were working, chances are you were scraping by during the 1930s. Unemployment
The biggest problem of the Great Depression was not low wages but the complete lack of any wage-earning opportunities, which caused many struggling families to slip into poverty. Throughout virtually all the 1930s, America's unemployment rate stayed in the double digits, peaking at about 25 percent in 1933. President Roosevelt tried to create public programs to give this massive unemployed group some way of earning a living, though it was perhaps World War II that most effectively pulled the nation out of its worst economic crisis. Many companies grew larger during the 1920s, creating many new jobs. Wages for most Americans increased. Many people began to have enough money to buy new kinds of products. The New Deal Stock Market Crash 1929 Mobile Project: The Grapes of Wrath During the 1930s, there were many changes that greatly affected the lifestyle, values, and quality of Americans. Many of these issues are focused on or at least referenced in The Grapes of Wrath. In order to fully understand the characters and the plot, it is important to have a general understanding of these topics. You are asked to select 1 topic from the list. You will conduct some very basic research on this topic using print sources or Online Databases, as well as this PREZI. Using the information that you have found, you will create a mobile which will serve as a general overview of the topic. The information on your mobile should be categorized and include the following:

Dates/Time Period
Resolution Remember that the written part of the mobile should be brief. Simply provide a general explanation rather than a detailed account.

You are also asked to include 2-3 visual components on your mobile (Pictures, Illustrations, cartoons, tangible items).

Please be sure that your mobile is attractive and informative. All writing should be either typed (preferred) or written neatly in marker (NO PENCIL). Additionally, the top of your mobile should display the topic that you researched as well as the source(s) that your information came from. Dust Bowl
FDR/The New Deal
Route 66
The Stock Market Crash of 1929
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