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Writing Fic for the 1930s

"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing."
A compiled reference and fact guide to writing fic for the 1930s.


As asked for, here's the follow-up on my 1920s guide! [US-oriented]



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INTRODUCTION | THE GREAT DEPRESSION | WARS | ENTERTAINMENT | FASHION | SLANG | QUICK FACTS | PRICES | LGBT & OTHER MINORITIES | THE DUSTBOWL | LINKS & CITATIONS


Introduction


This probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: If you're writing something set in the 1930s, you should probably read into the 1920s at least a little bit as well. My 1920s guide is a good place to start for research, just like this guide will be a starting place to point you toward the right places for 1930s research.

As with my 1920s guide, please note that I have written very little of this myself, except for fanfic-specific notes. All information has been collected from around the internet so that we, as fic writers, can have a one-stop post for the majority of the "quick" facts for '20s era writing, as well as links to both further reading and viewing. All places I have collected from are noted and linked at the bottom of this post.

While I cannot take credit for the majority of this information, I did do the HTML formatting, proofing, organization, and information gathering, so please do not repost this list in full and credit yourself for these aspects. You may, however, repost it and credit me for the HTML formatting etc. so long as you keep my sources at the bottom of the post (though I would prefer you just link back to the post). Reposting small portions needs no credit to myself for formatting, but a link back to this post would be appreciated.

A pretty important note: Wikipedia's page on the 1930s is very well put together and organized, and is a great one-stop for overview purposes (with, of course, links to read further on different aspects). I'd suggest going there as well as reading this guide.


The Great Depression


At the beginning of the 1930s, more than 15 million Americans (one-quarter of all wage-earning workers) were unemployed. President Herbert Hoover did not do much to alleviate the crisis: Patience and self-reliance, he argued, were all Americans needed to get them through this “passing incident in our national lives.” But in 1932, Americans elected a new president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who pledged to use the power of the federal government to make Americans’ lives better. Over the next nine years, Roosevelt’s New Deal created a new role for government in American life. Though the New Deal alone did not end the Depression, it did provide an unprecedented safety net to millions of suffering Americans.

The stock market crash of October 29, 1929 provided a dramatic end to an era of unprecedented, and unprecedentedly lopsided, prosperity. This disaster had been brewing for years. Different historians and economists offer different explanations for the crisis--some blame the increasingly uneven distribution of wealth and purchasing power in the 1920s, while others blame the decade’s agricultural slump or the international instability caused by World War I. In any case, the nation was woefully unprepared for the crash. For the most part, banks were unregulated and uninsured. The government offered no insurance or compensation for the unemployed, so when people stopped earning, they stopped spending. The consumer economy ground to a halt. An ordinary recession became the Great Depression, the defining event of the 1930s.

At the height of the Great Depression, more than a quarter million teenagers were living on the road in America, many criss-crossing the country by illegally hopping freight trains. This film tells the story of ten of these teenage hobos -from the reasons they left home to what they experienced- all within the context of depression-era America.

The Great Depression had devastating effects in virtually every country, rich and poor. Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25%, and in some countries rose as high as 33%.

Cities all around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by approximately 60%. Facing plummeting demand with few alternate sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as cash cropping, mining and logging suffered the most.

Some economies started to recover by the mid-1930s. In many countries, the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the start of World War II.


Wars


Wars


  • Colombia–Peru War (September 1, 1932 – May 24, 1933) – fought between the Republic of Colombia and the Republic of Peru.
  • Chaco War (June 15, 1932 – June 10, 1935) – the war was fought between Bolivia and Paraguay over the disputed territory of Gran Chaco resulting in an overall Paraguayan victory in 1935. An agreement dividing the territory was made in 1938, officially ending outstanding differences and bringing an official "peace" to the conflict.
  • Second Italo-Abyssinian War (October 1935 – May 1936) - The war was fought between the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy (Regno d'Italia) and the armed forces of the Ethiopian Empire (also known as Abyssinia). The war resulted in the military occupation of Ethiopia and its annexation into the newly created colony of Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana, or AOI).
  • Second Sino-Japanese War (July 7, 1937 – September 9, 1945) – fought between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. The Second Sino-Japanese War was the largest Asian war in the twentieth century. It also made up more than 50% of the casualties in the Pacific War.
  • World War II breaks out on September 1, 1939.

Internal Conflicts


  • Chinese Civil War (1927 - 1949) - The ruling Kuomintang and the rebel Communist Party of China fight a civil war for control of China. The Communists consolidated territory in the early 1930s and proclaimed a short-lived Chinese Soviet Republic that collapsed upon Kuomintang attacks, forcing a mass retreat known as the Long March. The Kuomintang and Communists attempted to put away their differences after 1937 to fight the Japanese occupation of China, but intermittent clashes continued through the remainder of the 1930s.
  • Spanish Civil War (July 17, 1936 – April 1, 1939) – Germany and Italy back anti-communist Falange forces of Francisco Franco. The Soviet Union and international communist parties (see Abraham Lincoln Brigade) back the left-wing republican faction in the war. The war ends in April 1939 with Franco's nationalist forces defeating the republican forces. Franco becomes Head of State of Spain, President of Government and de facto dictator. The Republic gives way to the Spanish State, an authoritarian dictatorship.
  • Castellammarese War (1929 – September 10, 1931).



Entertainment


By the 1930s money was scarce because of the depression, so people did what they could to make their lives happy. Movies were hot, parlor games and board games were popular. People gathered around radios to listen to the Yankees. Young people danced to the big bands. Franklin Roosevelt influenced Americans with his Fireside Chats. The golden age of the mystery novel continued as people escaped into books, reading writers like Agatha Christie, Dashielle Hammett, and Raymond Chandler.

The arts, like everything else in the '30s, were dominated by the Great Depression. In the 1930's this discipline was supported by government programs such as the Public Works of Art Project and later the Federal Art Project. The artists employed by these projects (over 5,000 at one period of time) chose themes based on American culture and history. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, was able to complete his Mount Rushmore Memorial with funds supplied by the WPA. Other "starving artists" were able to survive the hard times by painting murals on the lobby walls of government buildings. There were some of these individuals who became artists of note, such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

This decade saw the beginning of the American regionalist style with Grant Wood's famous work, "American Gothic". Artists that adopted this style include John Steuart Curry, Thomas Hart Benton, Georgia O'Keeffe with her southwestern themes, and Edward Hopper with his realistic scenes from city life.

Many of the nation's most memorable skyscrapers (the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and Rockefeller Center) were completed in the early '30s. In 1937 the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece of home design, "Falling Water", was built. In 1932 the word "mobile" was coined to describe the kinetic sculpture created by Alexander Calder. In 1935 Andrew Mellon gave his $25 million dollar art collection to the American people and contributed $10 million to the construction of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Literature


Many of America's most distinguished writers produced works of fiction during the thirties. The list includes such names as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thornton Wilder. Some of the novels of this period explored what was happening in the country during the Great Depression. John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath chronicled the life of a displaced Oklahoma family who had lost its farm to the drought of the Dust Bowl. James T. Farrell wrote a trilogy of novels about an Irish-American named Studs Lonigan and his attempt to rise above his poor beginnings. Richard Wright took on the issue of racial prejudice and the plight of blacks in Native Son. Erskine Caldwell's novel Tobacco Road described the life of poor whites in the rural South. All four of these works were cited on the recent Modern Library list of the top 100 novels in English of the 20th century.

There were notable works in other forms of literature. The poet Carl Sandburg published his poem "The People, Yes" in 1936. Ogden Nash wrote light verse for the New Yorker magazine. Dr. Seuss delighted children with his rhyming books for youngsters learning to read.

Music


"It Don't Mean a Thing (if it Ain't Got That Swing)". The title of this Duke Ellington song sums up the "in" music of the thirties. There were popular songs such as "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" that spoke to the hardships of the time, but the young people flocked to hear and dance to the big bands of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, and Tommy Dorsey. In this same era Broadway produced some of the most famous and lasting American musicals. George and Ira Gershwin wrote the hits Strike Up the Band, Girl Crazy, and Of Thee I Sing. Cole Porter produced such works as Anything Goes, Jubilee, and Red Hot and Blue. Songwriters and lyricists like Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, and Richard Rodgers composed melodies still being played and sung today.

Radio


Radio reached its zenith of popularity in this decade.By 1939 about 80 percent of the population owned radio sets. Americans loved to laugh at the antics of such comedians as Jack Benny, Fred Allen, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Amos and Andy, and Fibber McGee and Molly. The soap opera dominated the daytime airwaves.Our Gal Sunday began each episode with the question, "Can a girl from a little mining town in the west find happiness as the wife of a wealthy and titled Englishman?' Many a woman's ear was glued to her radio every day in hopes of learning the answer. The heroics of the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet, the Shadow, and Jack Armstrong, all-American boy, thrilled listeners both young and old and sold countless boxes of cereal.

News broadcasts by commentators like H. V. Kaltenborn and Edward R. Murrow kept the public aware of the increasing crisis in Europe. Franklin Roosevelt used the medium in his "Fireside Chats" to influence public opinion. One of the most dramatic moments in radio history occurred on May 6, 1937, when the German airship Hindenburg burst into flames as it was about to land in Lakehurst, New Jersey. The horror of the incident was conveyed live by the reporter Herb Morrison. His reaction to what was happening in front of him still enthralls today. On October 30, 1938, a 23-year-old Orson Welles broadcast on his Mercury Theater of the Air the H.G. Wells story War of the Worlds. Despite the disclaimer at the end of the program, the tale of a Martian invasion of Earth panicked a million listeners who mistook the play for a newscast. Such was the influence of radio in this its golden age.

Theatre & Film


The theater flourished in this fourth decade of the twentieth century. In addition to musicals, Broadway marques lit up with play titles like Green Pastures by Marc Connelly, The Man Who Came to Dinner by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman, Winterset by Maxwell Anderson, Abe Lincoln in Illinois by Robert Sherwood, and Waiting for Lefty by Clifford Odets. In 1936 the foremost American dramatist Eugene O'Neill won the Nobel prize for literature for such works as Anna Christie and Mourning Becomes Electra.

Hollywood turned out movie after movie to entertain its Depression audience and the '30s are often referred to as Hollywood's "Golden Age". Movie goers wanted mainly escapist fare that let them forget their everyday troubles for a few hours. They swooned over such matinee idols as Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, and Errol Flynn. They laughed at the likes of W. C. Fields, Bob Hope, and the Marx Brothers. America fell in love with the little curly headed moppet Shirley Temple and flocked to see her tap dance and sing to the song "The Good Ship Lollipop." Busby Berkeley's elaborate dance numbers delighted many a fan. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers tapping and ballroom dancing across the screen enthralled the audience.

Notable writers like William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald penned screenplays. Not all movies were fantasy and lightness. The picture version of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath brought to film the story of the Joab family and its migration from the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma to the agricultural fields of California. One of the top money makers of all time Gone With the Wind debuted in Atlanta, Georgia in 1939. Walt Disney produced the first full-length animated movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937.


Fashion


Since the 1930s was the decade of recovering from the 1929 Great Depression and stock market crash, companies started researching and implementing cheaper means of clothing manufacturing. New materials that were cheaper to process had been created during this decade to replace more expensive materials.

For example, rayon for women’s hose had been replaced by nylon during this decade. Likewise, many of the dresses that used to be made out of silk were made out of different grades of rayon. The zipper became more widely used and replaced buttons during this decade as well.

Women's clothing styles were less extravagant for the most part during the 1930s. However, you could still tell between the “haves” and “have nots” of this time. You can see some of the businesslike influence in the simple, yet feminine, outfits of two-piece V-neck cardigan, simple blouse, and button-down wrap skirts. Long, free-flowing dresses with moderately low V-necklines are often known as the “1930s Trousseau”. These particular outfits are what many people would perhaps associate in times past with tea time or luncheon in high society. These particular elegant yet simple lines of clothing or in the ever-growing middle class social circle.

The shapes of these dresses were designed to show off a woman’s most feminine features-tight or snug at the waist and then bowing slightly out. Most of these dresses are either slightly gathered and/or pleated. The pattern for many of the early 1930s dresses that were made is known as the “cross cut bias” style. All though women did cut back on the number and style of clothes, Ladies Hats were still an integral part of any lady's wardrobe.

The sleeves of most of the 1930s dresses and outfits referenced in this article are of ¾ length or shorter. The Hem line of most of the outfits during this time was cut between the knees and the shin. Colors of fashionable ladie’s wear in the 1930s were of different colors such as red, navy, white, and black. One of the most famous fashion influences of the 1930s was Coco Chanel. Another one of this time was Madeleine Vionnet, who was a French designer.

Swimwear for the ladies during this decade was fairly modest, but perhaps a little more revealing in contrast to other times in history. A basic swimsuit made during these times look much like the one-piece short tank outfits that are popular today. A similar style of swimsuit during this time is the one that is made with an overskirt to help hide a bulging stomach and larger sized thighs. Some of the suits made in this era were two-pieced as well, and often accented with a wide beach hat or a bow around the waist. Backs on women’s swimsuits were low during this decade. Suits were made from colors such as ivory, white, cream, grey, black, and buff. Sometimes they were accented with touches of red.

Edward the VIII was a major figure during these times for unusual male fashion. He is seen in short, baggy knee pants known as “Plus Fours” along with a round-necked schoolboy sweater. Underneath he was wearing a white butterfly-collared shirt with a black tie. On his head he was wearing a "grandpa" style hat.

Both men and boys wore full three-pieced suits during this time when attending formal occasions such as weddings. Similar to men's suits for sale in present day, these were made with broader shoulders and a more masculine-looking pattern than in earlier years. The alternative was usually something along the line of a sweater vest and knickers or trousers. These were also popular in the 1920s as well.


Slang


And, yet again, I'm here to remind you of my '20s guide! Be sure and check the slang section on it, as some of it is dated toward the end of the '20s, and the rest of the slang in the dictionary could be carried over unless otherwise noted with an out-of-use-by date.

A


Abercrombie A know-it-all
Abyssinia "I'll be seeing you."
Aces Very good (Also: snazzy, hot, nobby, smooth, sweet, swell, keen, cool)
All the way Chocolate cake or fudge with ice cream
All wet No good
Ameche Telephone (Also: horn, blower)
Apple Any big town or city

B


Babe Woman (Also: broad, dame, doll, frail, twist, muffin, kitten)
Baby Glass of milk
Bean Gun (Also: shooter, gat, rod, roscoe, heater, convincer)
Beat Broke
Behind the grind Behind in one's studies
Big house Prison (Also: hoosegow)
Bleed to extort or blackmail
Blinkers Eyes (Also: lamps, pies, shutters, peepers)
Blow your wig Become very excited
Booze Whiskey (Also: hooch, giggle juice, mule)
Brodie A mistake
Brunos Hired gunmen and other tough guys (Also: goons, hatchetmen, torpedoes, trigger men)
Bulge Having the advantage
Bumping gums Talk about nothing useful (Also: booshwash)
Butter and egg fly An attractive woman (Also: hot mama, sweet mama, sweet patootie, dish, looker, tomato)
Butter and egg man The money man, the man with the bankroll
Buzzer Police badge

C


Cabbage Money (Also: lettuce, kale, folding green, long green)
Cadillac One ounce packet of cocaine or heroin
Canary A female vocalist
Cats or alligators Fans of swing music
Cave One's house or apartment
Check or checker A dollar
Chicago overcoat Coffin
Chicago "Tommy Gun", Thompson Submachine Gun (Also: typewriter, chopper, gat)
Chisel Swindle, cheat, work an angle
Cinder dick Railroad detective
City juice Glass of water (Also: dog soup)
Clam-bake Wild swing
Clip joint Night club or gambling joint where patrons get flimflammed
Copper Policeman
Crumb A fink, a loser by social standards
Crust To insult
Curve Disappointment
Cute as a bug's ear Very cute

D


Dead hoofer Bad dancer (Also: cement mixer)
Dick Detective (Also: shamus, gumshoe, flatfoot)
Dig Think hard or understand
Dil-ya-ble A phone call
Dingy Silly
Dizzy with a dame Very much in love with a woman, sometimes at great risk to themselves, especially if she's someone else's moll
Dog house String bass
Doggy Well dressed but in a self conscious way
Dollface Name for a woman when a man is pleading his case or apologizing
Doss Sleep
Drilling Shooting a gun (at someone) (Also: plugging, throwing lead, filling someone with daylight, giving someone lead poisoning)
Drumsticks Legs (Also: pins, pillars, stems, uprights, get away sticks, gams)
Dukes Hands (Also: paws, grabbers, meat hooks)

E


Egg A crude person
Egg harbor Free dance
Eggs in coffee Run smoothly
Evil In a bad mood

F


Face A Caucasian
Fem Constant girl companion to a boy (Also: filly, flame, flirt, fuss)
Five spot $5 bill (Also: a Lincoln)

G


Genius An extremely dumb person (sarcastic)
Gin mill Place that serves liquor, sometimes illegally
G-man Federal agent, term coined by Machine Gun Kelly
Gobble-pipe Saxophone
Golddigger Attractive young woman actively hunting for a rich man
Greaseball Unpopular person (Also: half portion, wet smack, wet sock, jelly bean)
Grifter A con man or woman
Gumming the works To cause something to run less smoothly
Gunsel Gunman with a hint toward being a reckless loose cannon; young homosexual (insult)

H


Hard boiled Tough
Hocks Feet (Also: plates)
Honey cooler A kiss
Hop Dance or party (Also: rag, jolly up, romp, wingding)
Hotsquat Electric chair
House dick/house peeper House detective

I

J


Joe An average guy
Joed Tired
Juicy Enjoyable

K


K balling Salvaging parts from junked rail cars to rebuild others
Keen Very good
Kibosh Squelch
Kippy Neat

L


Low down All the information
Lunger Someone with tuberculosis

M


Make tracks Leave in a hurry; leave abruptly (Also: dangle)
Meat wagon Ambulance
Micky/Micky Finn Drink spiked with knock out drugs
Mitt me kid! Congratulate me
Moll A gangster's girlfriend
Murder! Wow!

N


Nuts! Telling someone they are full of nonsense

O


Okie Migrant worker from Oklahoma
Off the cob Corny

P


Packing heat Carrying a gun (Also: wearing iron)
Pally Friend, chum; sometimes used sarcastically
Patsy Innocent man framed for a criminal charge
Pill Disagreeable person
Pip Attractive person
Pitching woo Making love (Also: making whoopee)
Platter A record
Plenty rugged Big and strong
Pachuco Young Mexican living in the US

Q

R


Ring-a-ding-ding A good time at a party
Rot gut Prohibition alcohol, usually made in back rooms and of low quality (Also: bathtub gin)

S


Sawbuck $10 bill
Scat sin Poor student
Shake a leg Hurry up
Skin tickler A drummer
Slugburger Adding day-old bread to ground beef.
Slip me five Shake my hand
Smooth Well dressed without qualification
Snipe Cigarette
Sourdough Conterfeit money
Speakeasy Bar disguised as something else or hidden behind an unmarked door
Squat Nothing
Stool pigeon/snitch Someone who informs to the police
Suds Money (Also: salad, dough, moolah, rhino, bacon, bread)

T


Take a powder Leave (Also: blow, split, scram, drift)
Taking the rap/Taking the fall Taking responsibility for someone else's crime or crimes
The high hat A response in which one excludes another with irreverence and intent to offend
The kiss off/The final goodbye as in exile or death
Tin Small change
Tin can A car (Also: flivver)
Tin ear Someone who did not like popular music (Also: ickie)
Togged to the bricks Dressed up
Trip for biscuits A task that yields nothing
Twit Fool or idiot

U

V

W


Whacky Crazy
What's your story, morning glory? What do you mean by that?
Wheat Person unused to city ways

X

Y


Yo! Yes
You and me both I agree
"You shred it, wheat" You said it

Z





Quick Facts


  • Population: 123,188,000 in 48 states
  • Life Expectancy: Male 58.1; Female 61.6
  • Car Sales: 2,787,400
  • Lynchings: 21
  • Shantytowns form consisting of wood and cardboard in the United States. They are often referred to in history as Hoovertowns after President Hoover.
  • The '30s were a time when the depression caused by the wall street crash in late 1929 caused the world to undergo a fundamental change in lifestyles, and as part of the change some new radical politics became popular as seen in the rise of Fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism.
  • The '30s also provided a strange phenomenon never repeated where bank robbers and murderers were thought of as celebrities (a sort of modern Robin Hood). In reality, they did not rob from the rich to give to the poor, but robbed and murdered anyone who got in their way.
  • Sunglasses became popular in the 1930s.
  • After the fast pace of technological changee in the '20s, the '30s did still see some advances, including the jet engine.
  • Teabags are introduced and sold commercially.
  • The first photocopier is invented (but is not commercial available until 1948).
  • Big band or swing music becomes popular (from 1935 onward)
  • Superman is first seen in Action Comics (1938)
  • Ballpoint pen (1938 Hungary)
  • BBC Television (1932 England)
  • Electric razor (1931 USA)
  • Electron microscope (1933 Germany)
  • Helicopter (1936 Germany)
  • Jet engine (1930 England)
  • Nylon (1931 USA)
  • Magnetic Recording (1936 USA)
  • Photocopier (1938 USA)
  • Polaroid (1932 USA)
  • Aircraft radar (1935 Scotland)
  • Radio telescope (1932 USA)
  • Sticky tape (1930 USA)



Prices


If you have $100 converted from 1930 to 2005 it would be equivalent to $1204.42. In 1930 the average cost of a new house was $7,145.00 and by 1939 was $3,800.00. The average income per year was $1,970.00 and by 1939 was $1,730.00. A gallon of gas was 10 cents and by 1939 was 10 cents. The average cost of new car was $640.00 and by 1939 was $700.00.
  • Firestone Tyre from $3.69 (1932)
  • Single vision glasses $3.85 (1938)
  • Complete modern 10 piece bedroom suite $79.85
  • 1lb steak 20 cents (1938)
  • New Emerson bedroom radio $9.95 (1938)
  • Ladies' Newport matinee hat $1.59
  • Men's shirt $2.50 (1932)
  • Ladies' wool flannel robes $3.95 (1934)
  • Ladies' winter coats $16.00 (1937)
  • Men's quality overcoats $15.00 (1937)
  • Ladies' oxfords $2.44 (1937)
  • Men's slacks $3.98 (1937)
  • Women's silk hose 49 cents (1933)
  • Boys' wool overcoat $8.69-$11.98 ea.
  • Boys' corduroy pants and breeches from $1.98
  • Boys' school suit from $7.94
  • Girls' woolen hose (tights) from $25 cents per pair
  • Men's Arrow shirt from $1.45
  • Men's sport coat from $19.98
  • Women's dress shoes from $3.45
  • Women's two-piece suit from $6.98
  • Men's socks 10 cents (1933)
  • Ladies' sandals 98 cents (1939)
  • Children's underwear 49 cents (1935)
  • Men's two-piece double breasted suit $19.75 (1935)
  • Howard deluxe quality silk lined hat $2.85 (1935)
  • Sheep-lined moccasins 79 cents (1935)
  • Spring chickens 20 cents per pound (1932)
  • Wieners 8 cents per pound (1932)
  • Best steak 22 cents per pound (1935)
  • Pure lard 15 cents per pound (1935)
  • Hot cross buns 16 cents per dozen (1939)
  • Campbell's tomato soup 4 cans for 25 cents (1937)
  • Oranges 2 dozen for 25 cents (1937)
  • Kellog's Corn Flakes 3 pkgs for 25 cents (1937)
  • Mixed nuts 19 cents per pound (1937)
  • Pork loin roast 15 cents per pound (1937)
  • Channel catfish 28 cents per pound (1938)
  • Fresh peas 4 cents per pound (1939)
  • Cabbage 3 cents per pound (1939)
  • Sharp Wisconsin cheese 23 cents per pound (1939)
  • Fancy broadcloth pajamas $1.89 (1937)
  • Men's Lined Gloves 98 cents (1935)
  • Shoulder of Ohio spring lamb 17 cents per pound (1932)
  • Sliced baked ham 39 cents per pound (1932)
  • Dozen eggs 18 Cents (1932)
  • Coconut macaroons 27 cents per pound (1932)
  • Bananas 19 cents for 4 Pounds (1932)
  • Peanut butter 23 cents (1932)
  • Bran Flakes 10 cents (1939)
  • Jumbo sliced loaf of bread 5 cents (1939)
  • Spinach 5 cents a pound (1939)
  • Clifton toilet tissue 9 cents for two rolls (1932)
  • Camay soap 6 cents bar (1932)
  • Cod liver oil 44 cents per pint (1933)
  • Toothpaste 27 cents (1933)
  • Lux laundry soap 22 cents (1935)
  • Suntan oil 25 cents (1938)
  • Talcum powder 13 cents (1939)
  • Noxzema medicated cream for pimples 49 cents (1935)
  • Applesauce 20 cents for 3 cans
  • Bacon 38 cents per pound
  • White bread 8 cents per loaf
  • Ham 27 cents per can
  • Ketchup 9 cents
  • Iceberg lettuce 7 cents per head
  • Potatoes 18 cents for 10lbs
  • Sugar 49 cents for 10lbs
  • Lifebuoy soap 17 cents for 3 bars
  • Sugar $1.25 per 25lb sack (1932)
  • Pork and beans 5 cents can (1932)
  • Oranges 14 for 25 cents (1932)
  • Chuck roast 15 cents per pound (1932)
  • White potatoes 19 cents for 10lbs (1932)
  • Heinz beans 13 cents for 25oz can (1932)



LGBT & Other Minorities


  • 1931 - Mädchen in Uniform, one of the first explicitly lesbian films and the first pro-lesbian film, is released.
  • 1932 – Poland codifies the homosexual and heterosexual age of consent equally at 15. Polish law had never criminalized homosexuality, although occupying powers had outlawed it in 1835.[30]
  • 1933 – New Danish penalty law decriminalizes homosexuality.
  • 1933 – The National Socialist German Workers Party bans homosexual groups. Homosexuals are sent to concentration camps. Nazis burn the library of Magnus Hirschfeld's Institute for Sexual Research, and destroy the Institute; Denmark and Philippines decriminalizes homosexuality. Homosexual acts are re-criminalized in the USSR.
  • 1934 – Uruguay decriminalizes homosexuality. The USSR once again criminalizes muzhelozhstvo (specific Russian definition of “male sexual intercourse with male”, literally “man lying with man”), punishable by up to 5 years in prison – more for the coercion or involvement of minors.[58]
  • 1936 – Federico García Lorca , Spanish poet, is shot at the beginning of the civil war.
  • 1937 – The first use of the pink triangle for gay men in Nazi concentration camps.

The Pansy Craze


During the Pansy Craze of 1930-1933 in Manhattan, gay clubs and performers, known as "pansy performers", experienced a surge in underground popularity. By the end of the 1920s much of the public image of gay people was still limited to the various drag balls in Village and in Harlem, but the early 1930s saw a new development within a highly commercial context, bringing the gay subculture of the enclaves of Greenwich Village and Harlem onto the mainstream stages of midtown Manhattan in a veritable Pansy Craze from 1930 until the repeal of prohibition in 1933. After the repeal of prohibition, this tolerance waned.


The Dustbowl


The Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936 (in some areas until 1940). The phenomenon was caused by severe drought coupled with decades of extensive farming without crop rotation, fallow fields, cover crops or other techniques to prevent wind erosion. Deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains had displaced the natural deep-rooted grasses that normally kept the soil in place and trapped moisture even during periods of drought and high winds. This catastrophe intensified the economic impact of the Great Depression in the region.

During the drought of the 1930s, without natural anchors to keep the soil in place, it dried, turned to dust, and blew away eastward and southward in large dark clouds. At times the clouds blackened the sky reaching all the way to East Coast cities such as New York and Washington, D.C. Much of the soil ended up deposited in the Atlantic Ocean, carried by prevailing winds, which were in part created by the dry and bare soil conditions. These immense dust storms —given names such as "Black Blizzards" and "Black Rollers"— often reduced visibility to a few feet. The Dust Bowl affected 100,000,000 acres, centered on the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and adjacent parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas.


Links & Citations


The Great Depression on Wikipedia
The 1930s on Wikipedia
Dirty '30s: Slang of the 1930s
1930s Fashion on Glamordaze
Pansy Craze on Wikipedia
History.com: 1930s
The People History: 1930s
Lone Star College: American Cultural History 1930-1939
Then and Now Prices: Costs and Wages in the Great Depression
The Dustbowl on Wikipedia
Living History Farm: Farming in the 1930s
VIDEO/DOCUMENTARY: Surviving the Dust Bowl
VIDEO/DOCUMENTARY: Riding the Rails (Hobos on the trains in the Great Depression)
VIDEO: Vintage 1930s Swimwear
VIDEO: Rare Color Fashion Film


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Tags: #resources, 1930-1939, usa: history (misc), ~clothing, ~homosexuality: history, ~literature, ~movies, ~radio
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