The Great Depression in America [Two Volumes] [2 volumes]: A Cultural Encyclopedia


Everything from Amos n' Andy to zeppelins is included in this expansive two volume encyclopedia of popular culture during the Great Depression era. Two hundred entries explore the entertainments, amusements, and people of the United States during the difficult years of the 1930s. In spite of, or perhaps because of, such dire financial conditions, the worlds of art, fashion, film, literature, radio, music, sports, and theater pushed forward. Conditions of the times were often mirrored in the popular culture with ...

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Everything from Amos n' Andy to zeppelins is included in this expansive two volume encyclopedia of popular culture during the Great Depression era. Two hundred entries explore the entertainments, amusements, and people of the United States during the difficult years of the 1930s. In spite of, or perhaps because of, such dire financial conditions, the worlds of art, fashion, film, literature, radio, music, sports, and theater pushed forward. Conditions of the times were often mirrored in the popular culture with songs such as Brother Can You Spare a Dime, breadlines and soup kitchens, homelessness, and prohibition and repeal. Icons of the era such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George and Ira Gershwin, Jean Harlow, Billie Holiday, the Marx Brothers, Roy Rogers, Frank Sinatra, and Shirley Temple entertained many. Dracula, Gone With the Wind, It Happened One Night, and Superman distracted others from their daily worries. Fads and games - chain letters, jigsaw puzzles, marathon dancing, miniature golf, Monopoly - amused some, while musicians often sang the blues.

Nancy and William Young have written a work ideal for college and high school students as well as general readers looking for an overview of the popular culture of the 1930s. Art deco, big bands, Bonnie and Clyde, the Chicago's World Fair, Walt Disney, Duke Ellington, five-and-dimes, the Grand Ole Opry, the jitter-bug, Lindbergh kidnapping, Little Orphan Annie, the Olympics, operettas, quiz shows, Seabiscuit, vaudeville, westerns, and Your Hit Parade are just a sampling of the vast range of entries in this work. Reference features include an introductory essay providing an historical and cultural overview of the period, bibliography, and index.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Each volume begins with an Alphabetical List of Entries, followed by an uncommon Guide to Related Topics, which groups the list of entries by subject area. There are several features worth noting, such as the Depression-era prices followed by their bloated modern-day equivalents. Graphs and tables are found throughout. Not just attractive sidebars, these tables are well thought out, original, and fascinating to browsers. In the entry for candy, for example, an unexpected table lists specific brands, their manufacturers, and years introduced, while another table for leisure & recreation indicates the numbers of different recreational areas (softball diamonds vs. baseball diamonds vs. bathing beaches, etc.) available by year. Keep in mind the popular-culture focus, for the content here does differ from what might be anticipated in a more traditional encyclopedia of the Great Depression….[t]his comprehensive, unusual set will accommodate larger public libraries and libraries invested in popular culture or social economics with its gems of information; recommended."


Library Journal

"The 200 entries of this two-volume encyclopedia provide a window into the popular culture of the United States during the Great Depression. Broadly speaking, the cross-referenced entries discuss art, architecture, aviation, comic books and strips, expositions and fairs, fads and games, food and drink, government and culture, literature, magazines, musicians and other individuals, newspapers, radio, social issues, sports, theater, travel, and youth culture. Examples of individual topics explored by the two-to-three page entries include Amos 'n' Andy, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, automobiles, contract bridge, Walt Disney, Flash Gordon, Judy Garland, Edward Hopper, Leisure and Recreation, the Lindbergh Kidnapping, the Marx Brothers, miniature golf, pulp magazines, Paul Robeson, Frank Sinatra, stamp collecting, Walter Winchell, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Each entry concludes with a guide to selected readings."


Reference & Research Book News

"[T]his is a fun, informative, and exuberant look at the America of the 1930s. It clearly delights in informing the reader of the joyful aspects of what was a dark time in U.S. history. The subject matter should appeal to a wide audience; the stated targets for this encyclopedia are high-school as well as college students. Complements historical treatments by focusing on pop-culture aspects of the great depression."


Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin

"This new encyclopedia is intended to fill an important niche as a comprehensive overview of the culture of the United States during the Great Depression. The set features a broad range of topics arranged alphabetically in well-written articles. The Guide to Related Topics thematically groups topics and would be useful for students attempting to narrow a broad subject field."


Library Media Connection

"This new encyclopedia treats cultural phenomena with an emphasis on the impact of the mass media, especially radio and the movies. Even when discussing political events or personalities, that emphasis is maintained. This reviewer, who grew up in the l930s, doesn't know of another work on that period which provides information on such a wide range of topics (some 200), ranging from the trivial, such as Miniature Golf, to the socially, politically, even historically significant, e.g., Race Relations and Stereotyping. The usefulness of the work is enhanced by its readability, by a thorough index, by cross-references between topics, by brief bibliographies after each topic (mostly three or four items), and by an unusual but helpful practice—particularly for a work about the 1930s—that notes modern equivalents whenever a monetary figure is cited….[t]his two-volume set certainly will be useful for students seeking information about aspects of life in the US during the Depression period. Recommended. Lower-/upper-level undergraduates and general readers."



"This is a worthy first source for anyone middle school age and higher doing research. The writing is clear and informative. The entries provide quality depth and range without trying to include every little detail. The many tables and charts of the collection are an excellent addition and illustrate a variety of information….This encyclopedia would be a good addition to any history reference collection."


American Reference Books Annual

"The Great Depression in America is a marvellous resource for students and others studying this interesting period of American history, particularly where there is a need to try and look at how individuals were affected at the time, or to try and visualise and experience their lives, including their social activities and interests. The book is absolutely brimming over with facts, and yet it is written in a pleasing and interesting style. It is neither totally academic in approach nor is it populist - it is an excellent read, the epitome of the hard to put down book."


Reference Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313335204
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/30/2007
  • Edition description: Two Volume Set
  • Pages: 720
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 2.10 (d)

Meet the Author

WILLIAM H. YOUNG is a freelance writer and independent scholar. He retired in 2000 after 36 years from Lynchburg College where he taught American Studies and popular culture. Young has published books and articles on various aspects of popular culture, including three Greenwood volumes co-written with his wife, Nancy K. Young.

NANCY K. YOUNG is a researcher and independent scholar. She retired in 2005 after 26 years from a career in management consulting. With her husband, William H. Young, she has co-written three recent Greenwood titles, The 1930s, The 1950s, and Music of the Great Depression.

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Table of Contents

List of Entries

Guide to Related Topics





The Encyclopedia



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