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The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across the world; in most countries, it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. The Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the global economy can decline.

The Great Depression started in the United States after a major fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929, and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929, (known as Black Tuesday). Between 1929 and 1932, worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) fell by an estimated 15%. By comparison, worldwide GDP fell by less than 1% from 2008 to 2009 during the Great Recession. Some economies started to recover by the mid-1930s. However, in many countries, the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the beginning of World War II.

The Great Depression had devastating effects in both rich and poor countries. Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade fell by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 23% and in some countries rose as high as 33%.

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

Great Depression Media

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The family of Mr. Leroy Dunn, chopping cotton in a rented field near White Plains, Greene County, Georgia, June 1941.
Arkansas cotton pickers - early morning.
Re-building bridge after the flood, near Easton, Pennsylvania.
General view of sub-marginal farmland 50 miles west of Ithaca, New York. Tompkins County.
Waterfall on the Fall Brook recreational area, Pennsylvania.
Farm on submarginal land optioned for wild life area. Pennsylvania.
Dwelling, uninhabited, on proposed wild life area near Easton, Pennsylvania.
Farm and land optioned by Resettlement Administration for part-time farming. Near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Interior of barn on proposed wild life area, near Rensselaerville, New York.
Farmhouse recently abandoned on the area optioned by Resettlement Administration for wildlife near Rensselaerville, New York.
Living room of new Greenbelt house. Greenbelt, Maryland.
Farmhouse, Maine
Construction detail of fence near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The fence posts are state.
Fish hatchery near Cortland, New York.
Construction in progress on a new house.
Plowing on a Maryland farm?
Farm yard. New York State
Dwelling, uninhabited, on proposed wild life area near Easton, Pennsylvania.
King farm optioned for wild life area, near Rensselaer, New York.
Good farm optioned by Resettlement Administration fifty miles north of Ithaca, New York.
View of Ida Valley homesteads, Ida Valley, Virginia.
Area covered by sand. In the background, a barn is being submerged. Desert of Maine, Freeport.
Ice, storm and flood have ruined the farm of this rehabilitation client. Near Easton, Pennsylvania.
Good farm optioned by Resettlement Administration fifty miles north of Ithaca, New York.
Area covered by sand. In the background, a barn is being submerged. Desert of Maine, Freeport.
King farm optioned for wild life area, near Rensselaer, New York.
Farmhouse and family of resettlement client. Waldo County, Maine.
Interior of barn on proposed wild life area, near Rensselaerville, New York.
Good farmhouse optioned by Resettlement Administration 50 miles north of Ithaca, New York.
Baltimore houses with white steps. Baltimore, Maryland.
Backyards, Baltimore, Maryland.
Children in slum district. Baltimore, Maryland.
Lunch hour for negro tomato pickers, Homestead, Florida, Jan. 1938.
Typical Baltimore houses with white steps and painted screens. Baltimore, Maryland.
Typical Baltimore houses with white steps and painted screens. Baltimore, Maryland.
Star pupil, 82 years old, reading her lesson in adult class, Gee's Bend, Alabama, May 1939.
Palm Beach, Florida, March 1939.
Collecting cotton pickers
The barbed-wire enclosed camp for migratory workers at the Cannon [Canning] Company of Bridgeville, Delaware.
General view of Coal Hollow, Pennsylvania, about twelve miles south of Saint Marys City, Pennsylvania
Migratory agricultural workers at the Little Creek end of the Norfolk-Cape Charles Ferry. They are going to Bridgeville, Delaware to pick apples. July 1940.
Carpenters and construction workers waiting outside Florida State employment office trying to get jobs on Camp Blanding, Starke, Florida. Dec. 1940
FHA (Federal Housing Administration) low income housing project. Holyoke, Massachusetts
Church service in the Negro church, Woodville, Greene County, Georgia, October 1941.
Daughter of Mr. Buck Grant, Negro preacher near Woodville, Greene County, Georgia
Migratory laborers cutting celery, Belle Glade, Florida, January 1941.
Tintype photographer trying to make a sale at the Champlain Valley Exposition, Essex Junction, Vermont
Emergency defense office housing construction workers going on the job at 7:45 a.m. Washington, D.C.
Holyoke is a city of canals which supply water to the paper mills that line their banks. Massachusetts
Wife and child of a tenant farmer in northern Greene County, Georgia
Traffic cop in Brattleboro, Vermont
Mulatto ex-slave in her house near Greensboro, Alabama, May 1941.
Dormitories built to accomodate single men. FSA (Farm Security Administration) defense housing project. Hartford, Connecticut.
Washington, D.C. Construction work to provide emergency defense office space
At the "girlie" show at the fair in Rutland, Vermont
Civilian Conservation Corps boys putting up a fence, Greene County, Georgia, May 1941.
Reading war news aboard streetcar. San Francisco, California
Mrs. Gus Wright, Farm Security Administration client with her canned goods, Oakland community, Greene County, Georgia, November 1941.
Mrs. Annie Albrittan, who does washing in her home in Woodville, Greene County, Georgia, November 1941.
Picnic park created by CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). Savoy Mountain State Park, Massachusetts
Negro sharecropper and son who will be resettled, Transylvania Project, Louisiana, January 1939.
Negro tenant farmer who grew strawberries on shares near Hammond, Louisiana. The husband said that in a good year they came out with maybe two hundred dollars, April 1939.
Single tubular well ready to pour well slab on ground; Safe well demonstration near Ridge, Maryland, July 1941.
An FSA [Farm Security Administration] supervisor consults a borrower about unsanitary water supply; Safe well demonstration, near La Plata, Maryland [Charles County,] July 1941.
Wife and children of a Negro tenant farmer, Tupelo, Miss., Aug. 1935.
Reading the Bible in the "storefront" Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois.
Children of family on relief playing, Chicago, Illinois.
Pastor of the Pentecostal Church, Chicago, Illinois.
Unloading oysters from packet boat arriving at New Orleans, La.
Meeting of NYA [National Youth Administration] girls with an instructor at the Good Shepherd Community Center, Chicago, Illinois.
Waterfront in New Orleans. French market sidewalk scene. Louisiana
Victorian gravestone. Mississippi
Depot in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Movie theatre on Saint Charles Street. Liberty Theater, New Orleans, Louisiana
Scene at Smithland, Kentucky.
Victorian gravestone. Mississippi
Back street. Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Westmoreland County
Main street architecture. Selma, Alabama
Movie theatre on Saint Charles Street. Liberty Theater, New Orleans, Louisiana
Auto dump near Easton, Pennsylvania
Mule teams near Montgomery, Alabama
View of Easton, Pennsylvania, on the Lehigh River
Scott's Run mining camps near Morgantown, West Virginia. Company houses
Coca-Cola shack in Alabama
Houses of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Allie Mae Burroughs, wife of cotton sharecropper. Hale County, Alabama
Eagle's Store. Selma, Alabama
Morgantown, West Virginia
Belle Grove Plantation, 1858. [Iberville Parish,] Louisiana
Homes and land cultivation. Arthurdale project. Reedsville, West Virginia
Typical houses. Graveyard in foreground. Rowlesburg, Preston County, West Virginia
Belle Grove Plantation, 1858. [Iberville Parish,] Louisiana
Scott's Run mining camps near Morgantown, West Virginia. Company houses along run
Interior of miner's shack. Scott's Run outside of Morgantown, West Virginia
Mining company houses along river. Masontown, West Virginia
View of Easton, Pennsylvania
Scott's Run mining camps near Morgantown, West Virginia. View near Osage
Commercial propaganda. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Depot in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
View of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
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