Great Depression images show squalid conditions faced by families  

A series of photos taken at the height of the Great Depression have revealed the squalid conditions families were forced to live in.

Humanitarian photographer Lewis Hine, who used his eye-catching snaps to call for social reform, took the pictures while working for the American Red Cross to show how citizens were economically crippled as a result of the stock market crash of 1929. 

One striking image shows a shivering child sitting barefoot in the snow as he digs for scraps of coal to fend off the cold, while another features a dejected mother clinging to her child in a ramshackle hut.  

At the time, as many as one in five Americans had no job prospects and no means to provide for their families during the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialised world.

In one photo, a young boy barefoot in the snow two days before Christmas as he tries to find usable coal for the family fire

In one photo, a young boy barefoot in the snow two days before Christmas as he tries to find usable coal for the family fire

In one photo, a young boy barefoot in the snow two days before Christmas as he tries to find usable coal for the family fire

Another striking image, taken at the height of the Great Depression, shows a mother hugging her child close by as she sits in the doorway of her cabin

Another striking image, taken at the height of the Great Depression, shows a mother hugging her child close by as she sits in the doorway of her cabin

Another striking image, taken at the height of the Great Depression, shows a mother hugging her child close by as she sits in the doorway of her cabin

Humanitarian photographer Lewis Hine, who used his eye-catching snaps to call for social reform, took the pictures while working for the American Red Cross. These four boys were photographed in threadbare clothes in 1937

Humanitarian photographer Lewis Hine, who used his eye-catching snaps to call for social reform, took the pictures while working for the American Red Cross. These four boys were photographed in threadbare clothes in 1937

Humanitarian photographer Lewis Hine, who used his eye-catching snaps to call for social reform, took the pictures while working for the American Red Cross. These four boys were photographed in threadbare clothes in 1937

Pictured: the Johnson family. Their father lost his job, like millions of other Americans, forcing them to live in squalid conditions

Pictured: the Johnson family. Their father lost his job, like millions of other Americans, forcing them to live in squalid conditions

Pictured: the Johnson family. Their father lost his job, like millions of other Americans, forcing them to live in squalid conditions

A desperate family in Tennessee converted a houseboat into this ramshackle hut as shanty towns popped up across the U.S.

A desperate family in Tennessee converted a houseboat into this ramshackle hut as shanty towns popped up across the U.S.

A desperate family in Tennessee converted a houseboat into this ramshackle hut as shanty towns popped up across the U.S.

It began after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. 

Over the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, causing steep declines in industrial output and employment as failing companies laid off workers, especially in key industries such as mining and farming.

By 1933, when the Great Depression was at its most severe, some 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half the country’s banks had failed. 

Some towns faced unemployment levels as high as 80 or 90 percent, especially in rural locations.

The economic plight of the U.S. citizens was alleviated somewhat by the election of Frank D Roosevelt in 1932 who introduced sweeping reforms in his ‘New Deal’. 

The Second World War, which the USA entered in 1941 following the attack on Pearl Harbour, eventually saw unemployment levels drop and factories operating at full capacity once again.

The photos were intended yo show how citizens were economically crippled as a result of the stock market crash of 1929. Pictured: a miner's child

The photos were intended yo show how citizens were economically crippled as a result of the stock market crash of 1929. Pictured: a miner's child

The photos were intended yo show how citizens were economically crippled as a result of the stock market crash of 1929. Pictured: a miner’s child 

Here, Reverend Lovelace and some children from an orphanage conduct the Sunday afternoon service in Tennessee, in October 1933

Here, Reverend Lovelace and some children from an orphanage conduct the Sunday afternoon service in Tennessee, in October 1933

Here, Reverend Lovelace and some children from an orphanage conduct the Sunday afternoon service in Tennessee, in October 1933

A building formerly used to house miners and their equipment was turned into a nursery as desperate parents struggled to work

A building formerly used to house miners and their equipment was turned into a nursery as desperate parents struggled to work

A building formerly used to house miners and their equipment was turned into a nursery as desperate parents struggled to work

A group of children play with bricks as their out-of-work miner parents can't afford to buy them toys during the economic downturn of the 1930s

A group of children play with bricks as their out-of-work miner parents can't afford to buy them toys during the economic downturn of the 1930s

A group of children play with bricks as their out-of-work miner parents can’t afford to buy them toys during the economic downturn of the 1930s

A family huddle around a fire for warmth as one of the little boys cuddles up to a dog while their mother plays the guitar

A family huddle around a fire for warmth as one of the little boys cuddles up to a dog while their mother plays the guitar

A family huddle around a fire for warmth as one of the little boys cuddles up to a dog while their mother plays the guitar

Pictured: Young helpers at a local community centre in West Virginia. Some towns faced unemployment levels as high as 80 or 90 percent, especially in rural locations

Pictured: Young helpers at a local community centre in West Virginia. Some towns faced unemployment levels as high as 80 or 90 percent, especially in rural locations

Pictured: Young helpers at a local community centre in West Virginia. Some towns faced unemployment levels as high as 80 or 90 percent, especially in rural locations

In West Virginia, a nursery was set up in an abandoned mine building as families struggled for work at the height of the Great Depression

In West Virginia, a nursery was set up in an abandoned mine building as families struggled for work at the height of the Great Depression

In West Virginia, a nursery was set up in an abandoned mine building as families struggled for work at the height of the Great Depression

In this family home, newspaper was used instead of wallpaper. Pictured: the family sitting down for supper

In this family home, newspaper was used instead of wallpaper. Pictured: the family sitting down for supper

In this family home, newspaper was used instead of wallpaper. Pictured: the family sitting down for supper 

Work was extremely hard to come by and many families were left desperate - here, several generations are seen helping out on a Tennessee farm to make molasses

Work was extremely hard to come by and many families were left desperate - here, several generations are seen helping out on a Tennessee farm to make molasses

Work was extremely hard to come by and many families were left desperate – here, several generations are seen helping out on a Tennessee farm to make molasses

By 1933, some 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half the country's banks had failed. Pictured: a community enjoying a Christmas carol

By 1933, some 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half the country's banks had failed. Pictured: a community enjoying a Christmas carol

By 1933, some 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half the country’s banks had failed. Pictured: a community enjoying a Christmas carol

This photo, taken in 1936, shows three children in ripped clothes as they sit on a tattered patchwork quilt

This photo, taken in 1936, shows three children in ripped clothes as they sit on a tattered patchwork quilt

This photo, taken in 1936, shows three children in ripped clothes as they sit on a tattered patchwork quilt 

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