"Father, won't we have anything to eat for dinner?" said a young boy in a poor household, after his parents lost everything. Aww, now that's a sad story. The economic collapse of 1929, also known as the Great Depression, helped make most of the United States bankrupt. The Great Depression was the worst economic disaster in the entire history of the U.S. (Gusmorino). It put millions of people out of work, and made people homeless and hungry.

Food and job lines were nearly endless in the cities. The Great Depression was a horrible time for most of Americans. Many people lost their jobs and a lot of businesses closed. This job loss forced many Americans to becoming migrant workers. One of the main causes for this depression was that too many people over estimated the stock market's stability, and they put lots of money into it (Gusmorino).

When the stock market did crash, the people that invested in it lost everything. Also, people that put their life savings in banks lost everything they had, because the banks lost all their money. After this, it was hard to get the American people to put their trust back in the banks and the stock market, so President Roosevelt made a series of new laws and deals, creating more jobs, and ensuring that your money would not be lost in a bank. The new jobs that President Roosevelt created were mostly construction jobs to maintain and repair public lands.

For example, one of the new jobs was to fix and maintain highways. Also, he gave money to farmers for them to set up work camps on their farms. These work camps offered jobs to anyone that was willing to travel to a farm and work there. This process of leaving your home, and living wherever you can work, is called migrant labor. During this historical time period, millions of Americans were forced into a life of migrant labor (Migrant). A migrant worker is someone who travels from town to town, looking for work.

Then, when they find work, they live at the job site. Migrant workers usually live in small camps or tents along irrigation canals or right on a farm field. When a drought swept through the Great Plains in 1931, and dust storms came in 1932, the farmlands on the plains were all completely destroyed (Fanslow). Those people out of work moved to states like California for jobs.

For example, farmers, completely out of jobs, packed up their whole families and moved. Little did the Plains farms men know; California was also feeling the effects of the Great Depression. The state could not handle the endless flow of migrant workers coming in. Due to this population growth, many farmers were turned down at California's borders. But, when a farmer and his family did get a job, they found out that the conditions were horrible. So many people were out of work and needed jobs that the wages were almost nothing at all (Migrant).

Even with a whole family working, it was extremely hard for that family to make ends meet. The bright side for the farm owners was that there was now, never a shortage of farm hands to help with the harvest. However, because of the need to have so many people live on a farm, the sanitary conditions were very poor. Families set up tents along side of irrigation ditches on the fields, and these "ditch bank" camps created a public health problem.

When a farmer moved his family and got a job, their traveling was still far from over (Fanslow). In order to keep the income coming in, workers had to keep moving around the state to harvest the different crops that were ripe at that time (Steinbeck). For example, when the cotton needed to be picked, they would move to where the cotton grew. Then in a week or two, they would move to pick the potatoes.

Some of the different crops that were harvested were potatoes, cotton, lemons, oranges, and peas. These crops grew very well in the Californian climate. However, when World War II started, America finally pulled out of the Great Depression. World War II helped pull America out of the depression by making jobs for millions of Americans (Fanslow). Since the Army needed supplies like guns, tanks and planes, factories opened and jobs were created.

These factories served two purposes; they created many jobs, and it helped America fight the war. Since these factory workers now had jobs, they could use their money to buy things that were made in America. This is the main reason that the Great Depression ended. Most of the migrant workers went to work in factories, and the workers that didn't, took advantage of the new job opportunities. Work was now more plentiful than ever in the United States.

In conclusion, The Great Depression was the biggest economic failure in U.S. history. It was a horrible time for all of America, because jobs were very hard to find, and salaries were very low. In order for some people to get money, they had to become migrant workers. Migrant workers traveled around different states, looking for jobs on ranches or farms.

When World War II came, it created jobs for most Americans, and that job growth helped get the U.S. economy back on track. If America keeps prospering, like it is doing now, we will not have any more severe depressions, like the Great Depression. The American people will always buy things that were made in America, and that will help the economy to flourish. Mrs. Gordon is the best teacher in the world.


Gusmorino, Paul A., . Main Causes of the Great Depression. Gusmorino World (May 13, 1996).
Online. Internet: Fanslow, Robin A. The Migrant Experience. American Folk life Center. Library of Congress, 1998.
Migrant Workers in Washington State: a Boon to the Tree Fruit Industry. Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. New York: Penguin Books, 1978.