U.S. Children’s Bureau (1934)

The C family in Atlanta had always lived comfortably. The father was a foreman in a roller shop for 20 years, and for 9 years prior to losing his job in 1929 had made $55 a week. Unemployment came as a terrible shock. While they did not own their home they had savings amounting to $700. This was used up after a few months, and then Mr. C had to resort to anything he could find to do to earn a little money. He tried selling various articles, even papers on the streets, and finally started a delivery route for a drycleaning establishment on commission. At first he made very little, but after about two years he began to average $15 a week, his present earnings. By cutting down drastically on food and clothes at the beginning of their difficulties and by moving from a house which rented at $25 to one which was only $9, they were barely able to get along for the first two or three years of the change. Their new car, bought in 1929, reverted to the company because of an unpaid balance of $100. They sold valuable furniture . . . and purchased nothing more except on cash basis. All of this was done very quietly, the mother said, and relatives and friends had no knowledge of the real circumstances. There was a time . . . when the family actually suffered for food and fuel, but they never thought of applying for relief because they were determined to come through somehow. By great sacrifice and extremely careful management they have been able to pay up the rent and doctor's bills which accumulated during the leanest period .... They have managed to keep their one boy, now 16, sufficiently well clothed so that he could continue in school.

Source: Katharine F. Lenroot, "Children of the Depression: A Study of 259 Families in Selected Areas of Five Cities," 222, 223.

Copyright Digital History 2021