The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding workd war 2.The depression originated in the U.S., after the fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929, and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29th.
The picture is called The Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange and shows a mother and her children during the great depression.
Here are five facts that link the play Annie to the Great Depression
The very lowest point
The very lowest point of the Great Depression when the economy hit rock bottom and unemployment stood at 13 million people (34 million families) coincides with the time period Annie is set, 1933. This is why we see Warbuck so worried about the situation and on the phone to the president to do something about it. There was no manufacturing, so there weren’t any jobs in Warbucks factories, which meant that they weren’t making money for Warbuck so he’s just as worried as the poor man in the factory.
The Dust Bowl
As there was no work in the north, millions moved south to the agricultural lands of California. There many went from farm to farm as labourers to make money. Unfortunately a particularly dry summer combined with over farmed land led to fields turning to dust. These fields become useless, adding to the food shortage and what Roosevelts cabinet refer to as, The Dust Bowl.
The New Deal
Roosevelt came to power in 1932, beating Herbert Hoover who was widely blamed for the Great Depression. Roosevelts economic recovery plan was called The New Deal, which it is suggested was inspired by Annie’s optimism in Scene 11!
Emigration, low wealth and poverty
With a massive increase of unemployment and low wages for those who worked, money was scarce. Huge levels of poverty developed. Families were ripped apart as the men left town in search of work, promising to return with money, but in all likelihood never seen again. Some men emigrated out of the US to Canada and beyond, an excuse offered by Rooster and Lily when they claim they left Annie at the orphanage. Indeed, as poverty, emigration and low wages pulled families apart, many children found themselves abandoned at a young age to orphanages. In actual fact, many orphanages were established by adults as a way of making money. Child labour was cheap and the children could wirk in small factories, or small sewing shops like the one in Annie, for very little money passing more profit onto the orphanage owners, like Miss Hannigan.
Millions of people lost everything they had to try to simply stay feeding their families that they even lost their homes. Shanty towns, known as Hoovervilles after President Hoover who was widely blamed for the economic situation, were build on the edge of cities all over the US. Like the one in Annie, the people who lived there had nothing but newspapers to sleep under and stay warm in. And, just like the Hooverville in Annie, the police would often attempt to pull then down as they were technically trespassing on private land.