"Nobody is genuinely starving," claimed President Herbert Hoover. "The hoboes are being fed better than they have ever been." However, there were 20 recorded cases of famine in New York City in 1931, and 110 fatalities from hunger in 1934. Also, research conducted by the National Academy of Sciences estimates that between 4 and 11 million people died during the Great Depression.
Starvation was only one factor that could have led to such high rates of mortality. The poor quality of life in many cities with large populations of unemployed or underemployed people may have been another cause for concern. Many families had no choice but to eat whatever small amount of food was available at home, which would not have been enough to maintain a healthy weight.
It is difficult to estimate how many people actually starved to death during the Great Depression. There were more than 23 million Americans out of work in 1933, the highest number since the 1920s began. This means that one in five people were unable to find employment. Although unemployment levels returned to normal after that year, many areas of the country remained depressed into 1939.
It is clear that the Great Depression had a huge impact on American society. Millions of people were affected by it in various ways, some good, others bad.
According to one Great Depression-era kid survivor, "You become accustomed to hunger. It doesn't even hurt after the first few days; you simply grow weak." There were at least twenty reported cases of famine in 1931 alone; by 1934, the figure had risen to 110. Yes, during the Great Depression, people did go hungry.
Here are a few other facts about the Great Depression:
It was the worst economic disaster in American history.
It lasted from December 1929 until March 1939.
The stock market crashed on Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929). By the end of that year, nearly 100 million dollars had been lost by the families who invested their money in the markets.
By the start of 1939, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits exceeded two million. This was because employers didn't have to pay their workers while they were waiting for the economy to recover.
The New Deal was an array of laws and programs designed to alleviate poverty and promote economic recovery. The most important program was the Federal Emergency Relief Act, or FREDA. It provided federal assistance to states who wanted to use it for their own relief efforts. No state could refuse federal funds.
How many people died of starvation in the United States during the Great Depression? I tried to search this up earlier and couldn't find any solid information on the internet, largely because of a new widespread myth that 7 million people died of starvation during the Great Depression! That number is actually based on an estimate by John Egerton in his book Death By Government Program. The actual figure is known from other sources as well and it's not 7 million.
In fact, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the total number of deaths due to starvation in America between 1929 and 1945 was 20,000. This number includes both children and adults. It is estimated that between 1 and 2 percent of the population died during this time period.
Here are the sources for my numbers:
20,000 total deaths - this number comes from FEMA.
7 million based on a claim by John Egerton in his book Death by Government Program.
1-2% of the population died during this time period - this number comes from "Black Hunger" by George Krensky and 'The American Way of Food' by Martin Gelin.
Hobos were migratory laborers that wandered the United States, picking up employment wherever they could and never staying in one location for very long. Approximately 4,000,000 individuals were compelled to leave their homes during the Great Depression (1929–1939) in search of food and shelter. Although there is some evidence that many hobo camps existed at this time, most hobos lived in boxcars or under bridges. They worked on farms, in coal mines, and in factories, and some organized into gangs that committed robberies to support their habits.
During the great depression, men who didn't have anything else to eat would go from town to town eating whatever they could find, which usually wasn't much. These men were called hoboes because what little they ate wouldn't fill them up so they needed to keep moving along to find more food. There are reports of men riding freight trains looking for work, but most hoboes traveled by car or bus whenever possible. Some found work on farms while others worked in factories. Still others joined gangsters gangs that ran illegal activities such as robbery to survive.
In conclusion, men who didn't have anything else to eat back in the day used to call these poor people hoboes because they needed to eat something every few hours otherwise they'd still be hungry when they arrived at their next stop.
It's worth noting that this study was produced in 2009, before to Russia's (dare we say sensationalist) estimate of 7 million dead. Between 1929 and 1933, when the country was in the grip of the Great Depression and people were eating significantly less, life expectancy grew by 6 years.
The number of deaths caused directly by the loss of life from starvation and poverty came to about 700,000 people. This includes children who would have survived but for the malnutrition that brought on their deaths - about 250,000 - as well as adults who would have lived longer had it not been for the depression - about 450,000.
This does not include the additional deaths due to disease or violence who might have been saved with better nutrition and health care. It also doesn't count the hundreds of thousands who committed suicide because they had nothing to live for.
In conclusion, the great depression did not cause as many deaths as previously thought. Life expectancy increased by about six years during that time period.
Cannibalism was common during the Holodomor (Ukraine's famine) in 1932 and 1933, with several reports of cannibalism from Ukraine, Russia's Volga, South Siberian, and Kuban areas during the Soviet famine of 1932–1933. In addition, some researchers have suggested that there was also cannibalism during the Great Depression in North America.
People did not just eat each other; they also used their body parts as food. A bone is a hard thing to find on the menu, but it can be useful for making soup. So in poor countries without much meat available, people often turned to eating the bones of animals when they could not afford meat. This is called "bone eating" or "cannibalism."
During the Great Depression, people had very little choice about what they were going to eat. If you didn't have any money, you couldn't buy anything to eat. So if you needed something to eat, you were going to have to eat whatever was available. This included things like skin, fur, flesh, and even blood of other people.
The most effective way to get something to eat during this time would be to join a gang. A gang would go out and steal food or animals to feed its members. If someone got caught, they usually got punished by being shot at close range with a rifle with no bullet in it.