What is the Great Depression?
The Great Depression was a time of extreme hardship for many around the world especially within Australia. It began before the market crash in prices and lasted until World War 2. Many people became unemployed with a record at 29%. Many lost their houses forcing families, women and men to relocate to alternative accommodation. Women were especially affected by the disastrous depression. The importance of their roles within the household increased. Women were kept busy finding food, providing for their family, working and juggling between children. Food
What was the most common food available?
Food in the Great Depression was very limited and scarce. Flower gardens were converted to vegetable gardens, mushrooms and blackberries were collected and fishing or rabbiting also became important if one lived in an appropriate area. The men usually took on the role of hunting, while the women stayed at home and cooked. For women it was particularly difficult, it was hard to create filling meals due to lack of ingredients. Bread and dripping, mince and soup was the most common food served in a variety of ways, it was the staple diet of many unemployed. Another common and popular meal known throughout many Australian households was Golden syrup and treacle. Housing How did housing styles and architecture change through the great depression? During the great depression, there was a shortage of tradesmen. Ceilings of houses were lowered and the paneling became larger. The floor plan was much more simple and houses were smaller. Most were only one storey in height. The style of roof construction also changed. Many houses in that era had a “sleep out.” A “sleep out” was an outside patio or area allowing people to sleep on, on a hot summer night. It was also used for a healthy alternative to fresh air, as a common disease known back then was Tuberculosis and there was no cure. The front bricks were usually a very dark blue/black brick with brown “commons” on the side. The houses were very functional and well built for their time. Many people were evicted of their homes because they were unable to pay the landlord. The houses were left empty which then resulted in most situations becoming vandalized and damaged. What was the most common type of housing known throughout this time and seen in many suburbs across Australia? The most common types of architecture included the California Bungalow, Ashgrovian, Spanish Mission and the Old English. Clothing
Where did women shop and what did they wear during this era? The clothing of women during the 1930’s reflected highly upon their social status and the levels of unemployment and poverty. Many high-class women shopped at large department stores including Grace Brothers and Myer. They were influcend upon the high-end fashions seen throughout films. Charity balls were a perfect occasion to show off their new outfits. In an autumn catalogue called Sears, it quotes “Thrift is the spirit of the day, reckless spending is a thing of the past.” For the poor, clothing was usually hand-me-downs make from simple fabrics like cotton and wool. Women also began to start thrift shopping. Entertainment
How did women in particular entertainment themselves through the great depression? Much of the entertainment was centred within the home. Evenings were spent singing round the piano or playing cards. For those who were unable to afford outings, the radio was extremely popular. Sporting events became a main activity for many including Cricket and horse races such as the Melbourne Cup. For the wealthy or those who were able to source full time work, charity balls and parties were held on Friday and Saturday nights in the city or middle-class suburbs. The poor did not attend these events; however for those who could, enjoyed the luxurious scenes, lavish food, tasteful drinks and extravagant dancing. Another popular source of entertainment included going to the cinemas. For many it was a place to escape their everyday life and sit back and relax. 95% of the films came from Hollywood. Live theatre was a cheap and effective source of entertainment. Many attended a performance by the comedian the clown Roy Rene. Work
How was finding work difficult for women?
Throughout the great depression many women struggled to earn income and provide for their families. In 1932, the level of unemployment in Adelaide, South Australia was 29% according to http://ura.unisa.edu.au/R/?func=dbin-jump-full&object_id=unisa25993 written by Rosemary Green. For women it was particularly difficult to find employment, wages were low and many found it hard to make a living. Most married women were expected to devote themselves to household work and caring for children, while on the other hand men worked to earn an income. They also received a greater burden even after working all day they were expected to cook dinner and maintain house order. Loss of job could’ve been disastrous, unemployment was a major issue causing poverty and the government did not fund women during the depression. What was the most common area of employment?
Most women were restricted to only certain areas within the workforce. Women were still concentrated in traditional jobs, the major area of employment being domestic service, industrial work in clothing and textile manufacturing, consumer goods, commerce and fiancé and public and professional administration. Government relief
How did the government provide relief to many Australian Citizens? The government provided relief to many during the great depression through a financial aid called “The Susso.” The downturn of economy had a huge effect on the lives of the poor. In 1932, more than 60,000 people relied on the sustenance payments (the susso) to survive. Those who were unemployed and seeking assistance had to register and prove that they had been unemployed for at least 2 weeks. Most states did not provide cash on hand however food coupons. Without “The Susso” our country would’ve been in rural poverty. “Are you on the dole yet?” this quote became an ordinary greeting of woman in the street during 1930. Health (Physical/mental)
What were some of the major health concerns during the great depression ,especially for women? The physical health of many Australians was low. Malnutrition was the biggest cause. Women especially lacked food as they gave up theirs for the sake of their family and children. Tuberculosis also known as TB, was a common disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria. This was an outrage as many could not afford to go to the doctor and there was no cure. Mentally, many women suffered from anxiety and depression. As the era states itself, “the great depression” it was a very challenging and difficult time.