Dating in the 1930
In the South and West, Mexican American women on the bottom rung of the economic ladder faced similar conditions, but with an added dimension: the threat of deportation back to Mexico because of fears about competition for jobs and relief.
In the depths of the Depression, perhaps one-third of the Mexican American population returned to Mexico, straining family ties and causing extreme financial hardship.
Men were socialized to think of themselves as breadwinners; when they lost their jobs or saw their incomes reduced, they felt like failures because they couldn’t take care of their families.
Women, on the other hand, saw their roles in the household enhanced as they juggled to make ends meet.
I think that everyone thought the Depression, like everything else, was for the white folks.” In 1930 nine out of ten African American women worked in agriculture or domestic service, both areas hard hit by the depression.
Housewives who previously hired servants began to do their own housework; sometimes white women competed for jobs previously abandoned as too undesirable to black women.
Women “made do” by substituting their own labor for something that previously had been bought with cash or by practicing petty economies like buying day-old bread or warming several dishes in the oven to save gas.
Still, even the terrible economic crisis could not derail the overarching twentieth-century trend of women increasingly working for pay outside the home.
“I’ve lived in cities for many months broke, without help, too timid to get in breadlines,” remembered the writer Meridel Le Sueur.
“I’ve known many women to live like this until they simply faint on the street from privations, without saying a word to anyone. No depression.” Yet this attempt to make women scapegoats for the Depression rested on shaky grounds.
Herbert Hoover’s initial response to the onset of the Depression in 1929 had been to turn to business, private charity, and state and local welfare councils to address the problem, but those resources quickly proved inadequate.
When Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933, his New Deal forged new ground in expanding the presence of the federal government in the economy and making concrete connections between federal programs and the lives of everyday citizens.(Only one in ten farm families in 1935 had electricity.) Farm families also struggled with declining agricultural prices, foreclosures, and in the Midwest, a terrible drought that contributed to the Dust Bowl migrations of that decade.