The Great Depression: An Oral History

About 10 years ago a teacher at my sons’ school asked the students in his class to ask their older relatives if they had lived through the Great Depression and were able to tell the class what it was like to be a child during that period of US history. My father, who has always been an enthusiastic student of history, was a boy in New York City during those years, and he volunteered to make a tape about his experience. My sons’ friend, Juan, is the boy who had this assignment, and as he had not been born in the US, and none of his relatives spoke English, my father volunteered to make a tape about his experiences for Juan to use.

At the time of this recording, Juan was 12 years old. Now he is 22 years old and serving in the US military. My father is now 83, and still has vivid memories of the Great Depression. Given the current economic situation and some of the recent discussions about social programs like Social Security and Medicare, which were created in response to the Great Depression, I thought it was interesting to listen once again to my father’s recollections so we might remember how difficult things were when there was no “safety net.”

The recollection is quite long, but worth listening to. For those who need to limit their listening time, it might help to know that at around the 19 minute mark, the discussion shifts from a general discussion of what life was like in those years to one that is more specific to his experience during the Great Depression.

Here’s a downloadable link: The Great Depression