The stock market collapse in 1929 initiated a cascade of economic effects that devastated American businesses. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, with the unemployment rate reaching as high as 25%, and even those lucky enough to keep their jobs saw their wages and incomes decline by 40%. The result was unprecedented levels of hunger, and the scale of need quickly overwhelmed charities. Images of blocks-long breadlines in cities across the country made hunger visible in ways it had never been before, convincing many Americans that government intervention was needed.
Statistics from the National Bureau of Economic Research.
“The Test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The shocking image of the breadline endures in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC. The outdoor installation features sculptures of five men waiting in a breadline, alongside a farmer and his wife – symbols for the crisis of the Depression.
Galleries & Exhibits
- 11865-1925: Hunger in the Industrial City
- 21929-1940: America in Crisis and Recovery
- 31945-1965: WWII and the Paradoxes of the Postwar Era
- 41955-1980: The Fight for the Right to Food
- 51975-1996: The Unmaking of the Great Society
- 61997-Present: How It Is — And How It Should Be