Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Geoffrey Blodgett


Great Depression, United States, Ohio, Oberlin, Oberlin College, Death, Suicide


The preceding section is the human evidence behind this paper: what did the Great Depression feel like? What was it like to live in a Hooverville? To travel across the country in a rundown Jalopy? To Jump freight trains and live in box cars? To go on relief? What impact did the depression have on the national and individual psyche? Many authors have dealt with these questions, so why do it again? First, this thesis represents a attempt to draw together all the information for myself. Second, it is also an endeavor to find what people considered then (and perhaps still do) most important in their lives. Third, it may lead to a deeper understanding of what sort of society entered the depression and how the depression changed it.

The first thing to be discussed is the economics of the depression. Most importantly, Just what is a depression? No one seems to know. Economists have agreed on a definition for the term recession, but have not reached a consensus on the term depression. Five different handbooks of economics give five different definitions of the word ranging from "a severe slowdown in the economy," to "a long lasting recession in economic activity". Perhaps the best way to define a depression is to list its characteristics. Generally, business activity is far below normal, there is great pessimism among business and consumers alike, there is a sharp curtailment of production, little capital investment, contraction of credit, falling prices, mass unemployment, and a high rate of business failures.

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