The 1920s was a time of optimism and energy, with a booming American economy that showed no signs of slowing, and no one realized that it was a bubble about to burst.
The stock market crash came on “Black Tuesday,” October 29, 1929, when panicking investors sold an unprecedented 16.4 million shares of stock. The collapse touched every part of the economy. Factories closed. Businesses failed.
Five thousand banks collapsed, wiping out the life savings of 9 million families. Many lost their homes. One in every three workers was either unemployed or on short hours and reduced wages. “While crops rotted in the fields…people starved in the cities.
People wore threadbare clothing, while bales of cotton stood unsold. Thousands of shoe workers were laid off, while people walked the streets in cardboard shoes.” Elected president in 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt restored some hope and confidence in people.
But despite his efforts to revive the economy through the New Deal, the Great Depression continued year after year. Only the mobilization of resources because of World War II pulled the United States out of its slump, and the economy finally regained its 1929 levels in 1941. But the Great Depression would never be forgotten by those who witnessed it, those who lived through such hard times. With reduced wages and irregular employment, many families could no longer earn enough money having only the husbands working. Increasingly, women had to work outside their homes to help support their families. In 1930 about a quarter of the female population was in the labor force, and the number of married women working increased by 52 percent in the 1930s.
In general, women workers were paid low wages and had to work very long hours. The public was very hostile to female workers, especially married ones. Many rejected the idea of women working because they believed that women took away jobs from men and that a woman’s place was in the ho…