The Great Depression | South Carolina's Greatest Generation


This segment documents the era of the Great Depression. It was a decade of misery that started with the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Across the nation in the 1930s, 15 million were unemployed. Thirty percent of South Carolina's workforce had no jobs. Free food lines were the norm. In Columbia in 1932, more than a half-million free meals were served to the destitute. Nearly everyone in the state was affected. South Carolinians share their reflections of this time. No government aid existed. South Carolina had no old-age pensions, and there was no assistance for the blind or dependent children, Between 1920 and 1935, 80 percent of the state's high school graduates left the state to seek a better life. Unemployment was high and personal health was poor. These conditions produced a generation of survivors.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was President, numerous programs were created to put people to work. State Parks were built, along with an airport in Greenville, the Dock Street Theater and the Navy Yard in Charleston, and there was help for the farmers. Santee-Cooper was built with PWA funds and labor paid by the WPA, and delivered electric power to the Lowcountry.