The Great Depression and Children

By: Alek and Lane

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live on the streets? Or how about what life would be like without going to the mall? How not even being able to get the things that you need, let alone the things that you want? During the great depression children had to live without all those things, but they still found ways to make money, play, and just live in general!
Manpower Junior Size By Howard Limbarman From the FSA-OWI collection

The great depression was a time of little work, and kids did some of this work. The kids had to be 16 to be eligible to work. The grownups wanted the work to go to themselves, instead of kids. They worked on farms most of the time. Some kids worked on cotton mills. Other ones packed shingles. Some girls became babysitters. Kids sold fresh fruits and veggies. Some boys trapped animals and killed them for their meat and fur. An awesome boy named Clancy Strock helped his dad shovel snow on county roads for a dollar a day. Another girl named Ann Marie Low typed letters for the school superintendent in her town. She bought her own typewriter before the local bank closed. Some kid down south (meaning SC, GA, FL, AB, MS, LA, and TX.) He worked by painting houses and pumping gas. That is some of the ways that kids worked during the great depression.

During the great depression, children couldn’t just go out and spend money so they had to come up with other ways to entertain themselves. For instance, playing baseball, doing puzzles, and playing board games were very popular. Surprisingly going to movies was also a favorite pastime, and if they had radios they would listen to that. Unfortunately for the adults playing pranks was a great way to pass the time. Playing tag, hide and seek, and other games that didn’t require any material was also fun. Reading or playing games that didn’t require other children was fun if you didn’t have any brothers or sisters. Children would also pick up anything that they could find and make them into dolls and other toys. Since soda
Griffin Children of Alabama 1936 June By Carl Mydans from the FSA-OWI collection
costs money kids would pick fruit and squeeze the juice out for a refreshing drink. Most kids couldn't afford candy so fruit was a special treat. Some children didn't even have time to play because they had to work to earn money for their families. Even if, as astounding as it is, these children couldn't just go out and buy stuff at the mall like we do now, they could still find ways to entertain themselves!

During the great depression, the things that happened around children had a very large affect on them. A lot of people lost their jobs which caused many not to be able to support their families, which caused them to split up, leaving lots of children homeless or abandoned. In fact about 250,000 young people were living on the streets. Some families were not able to pay mortgage and lost their homes or farms which was hard because then they would have to either move into the house of a relative, in a Hooverville, or on the streets. Since there was no money a lot of schools were closing down, as a result of this,
Impoverished Family of Nine By Dorthea Lange from the FSA-OWI collection
about three million children were not able to go to school. Without an education children were not able to get jobs when they were old enough, which caused them to leave their families to look for better work and a chance for a new life. Because there were so many homeless children that couldn't find any work to make money, a lot of them couldn't afford food and therefore were not very healthy, around 20% of kids were hungry and couldn't afford proper clothing, instead they wore filthy rags. In some places poverty reached up to about 90% of children. Even though their lives were full of a lot of challenges, all of these children never gave up and many of them ended up much better than they had started off.

When you think of the great depression you think of how hard life would have been, and how brave people where, but you usually don't think of the fact that the kids where really brave to. Children during the great depression had to work to earn money for their families and sometimes live on the streets, but somehow they still managed to have fun and live life during the 1930s.


"Entertainment During the Great Depression."� N.p. 01-06. Web. March 20 2012.

"Explorations Children and the Great Depression."� N.p. 20 March 2012. Web. March 20 2012.

"Family Life During the Great Depression”. Web. January 27 //

Freedman,Russell. Children During the Great Depression. New York, New York:Clarion Books, 2005. Print

"Life During the Great Depression."� Allabouthistory.or. N.p. March 20 2012. Web. March 20, 2012.

Reinhardt, Claudia and Ganzel, Bill. “Having Fun-Family Time.” 2003. Web. March 1st 2012. //'s/life_20html//