Stories of Survival: Arkansas Farmers during the Great Depression

Stories of Survival: Arkansas Farmers during the Great Depression

by William Downs Jr.


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Stories of Survival: Arkansas Farmers during the Great Depression by William Downs Jr.

Through dozens of in-depth interviews representing all sections of the state, farm families recall their best times, their worst times, and day-to-day experiences such as chores, washing, bathing, clothes making, medical care, home remedies, spiritual life, courtship and marriage, and school experiences. Their stories reveal how ordinary men and women, frequently living in abject poverty, endured cataclysmic natural disasters and economic collapse with extraordinary courage, faith, resourcefulness, and a good sense of humor.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781557286895
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Edition description: 1
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,085,740
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

William D. Downs Jr. is professor emeritus of mass communications at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, where he served as chair of the department for more than forty years. A graduate of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, he also received MA and PhD degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments ix

I Introduction to "Stories of Survival" 1

Why the Great Depression Was Late Coming to Arkansas 4

Cataclysmic Natural Disasters 6

The 1927 Flood 6

The Drought of 1030-1931 8

Role of the Red Cross in Drought Relief 11

Plummeting Commodity Prices 15

For Rural Arkansas, the Economic News Was All Bad 15

Crisis in Bank Failures in Arkansas 16

Mounting Public Debt 18

Arkansas in 1929: Forty-sixth in per Capita Income, First in per Capita Indebtedness 18

The Problem of Rural Arkansas's Self-image 19

President Franklin D. Roosevelt Takes Office in 1933 20

The New Deal 20

State's Robinson Sold New Deal in Congress 21

FDR's First One Hundred Days 22

New Deal not without Its Critics 24

Establishment of the Dyess Colony 25

Sharecroppers and the Rise of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union 26

Arkansas after the Great Depression 28

II Meet the Survivors 29

III Stories of Survival: Arkansas Farmers during the Great Depression 47

Chapter 1 Earliest Memories of the Great Depression 49

Chapter 2 Sharecropping in Arkansas 61

Chapter 3 Income Sources for Buying Food, Seed, and Other Items 65

Chapter 4 Crops and Gardens and How They Were Worked 74

Chapter 5 Typical Chores around the Farm 86

Chapter 6 Preserving Milk, Making Butter and Buttermilk 93

Chapter 7 Hog Killing: A Special Time of Year 96

Chapter 8 Making Molasses, Peanut Butter, and Such 100

Chapter 9 Meeting and Taking Care of Hoboes 103

Chapter 10 Making Our Own Clothes, Going Barefooted 105

Chapter 11 How We Washed Our Clothes 113

Chapter 12 Family Bathing Routines 116

Chapter 13 Did We Know We Were Poor? 120

Chapter 14 Transportation-How We Got Around 130

Chapter 15 School Experiences 135

Chapter 16 How Did We Entertain Ourselves? 148

Chapter 17 Courtship and Marriage 161

Chapter 18 Medical Care 166

Chapter 19 Home Remedies 170

Chapter 20 To What Extent Did the Weather Affect Crops? 179

Chapter 21 Sources of News, Listening to Radio 186

Chapter 22 Christmas Memories 194

Chapter 23 Spiritual Life and Good Neighbors 206

Chapter 24 Serious Problems That Were Faced 215

Chapter 25 Worst Memories 221

Chapter 26 Effects of the Agricultural Adjustment Act 231

Chapter 27 Racism during the Depression Era 234

Chapter 28 Best Memories of the Depression 239

Chapter 29 Funniest Memories 248

Chapter 30 Other Memories 252

Chapter 31 Survival Stories Our Young People Need Co Hear 278

IV Epilogue 291

V Appendix 293

Notes 297

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