Community Event Resources

“Soul of a People: Voices from the Writers’ Project” Online Site Support Notebook

“A community-wide Soul of a People celebration focusing on the Writer’s Project, its authors and its output. Libraries will be encouraged to create a 1930s atmosphere with music, displays of books and photographs, food, antiques, related programs for children, and other activities.”

Websites with general information on the 1930s

Collecting stories

Comics of the 1930s

Food

  • www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/tri098.html
    www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4176589
    These two websites focus on the Federal Writers’ Project “America Eats” project. One is an NPR Kitchen Sisters program with streaming interviews and readings from the “America Eats” archives at the Library of Congress; the other depicts photographs of eating and cooking food at social gatherings such as picnics, barbecues, and food festivals in locations including California, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi. The recently published book by Pat Willard,  America Eats: On the Road with the WPA (New York: Bloomsbury, 2008) traces the FWP research done for the America Eats project and is sprinkled throughout with heirloom recipes (Root Beer, Pickled Watermelon Rinds, Chess Pie, Son-of-Gun Stew) and never-before-published vintage photos.

Radio in the 1930s

WPA Posters, Photographs, Murals

Toys and Games

  • From the History Channel website

    • 1928 The Mickey Mouse character is created by Walt Disney. Two years later, Charlotte Clark began making stuffed Mickey Mouse dolls, and Disney's legendary merchandising was born.

    • 1929 The yo-yo is popularized in the United States after entrepreneur Donald Duncan sees the toy being demonstrated in Los Angeles. Duncan bought a small yo-yo company for $25,000 and 30 years later sales of Duncan yo-yos reach $25 million dollars.

    • 1931 Alfred M. Butts, an unemployed architect from Poughkeepsie, New York, invents a word game called the Criss Cross Game. In 1948, Butts sold the rights to the game to entrepreneur James Brunot, who trademarked it under the name Scrabble. Scrabble went on to sell more than 100 million sets worldwide, including one to two million each year in North America alone.

    • 1935 Parker Brothers introduces Monopoly. By offering a way to “get rich quick” to Americans struggling through the Great Depression, Monopoly quickly becomes a bestseller, eventually attracting more than 480 million players all over the world.

    • 1938 Piano tuner and camera buff William Gruber is the mastermind behind the View-Master three-dimensional viewer, which is first sold only through photography stores. Later, after acquiring the licensing rights to all Disney characters, View-Master hit the jackpot, offering 3-D images of stills from Disney movies and TV programs and views of the Disneyland amusement park.

    • Early 1940s Affordable, detailed model airplanes begin to be mass-produced. Originally designed to help manufacturers sell airplanes to the military, they begin to make practical toys with the introduction of plastic. Before plastic, models were made with balsa wood provided in kits. Otherwise, consumers had to cut their own wood pieces to fit a provided pattern.

  • Toys From The 1930s (from www.thepeoplehistory.com)
    The 1930s was the inverse of the 1920s in terms of prosperity. With the onset of the depression, a lot of the ingenuity of the past couple of decades in toy design was sidelined, if only because so few children could afford to own something new and expensive.

    But, dozens of toys and games that we still consider amazing fun by today’s standards were developed in the 1930s. Forbes Magazine named the 3-D view master as the biggest toy of the decade, showing once again how technology was so influential in wowing children in any decade to a new toy.

    Likewise, pop culture tie ins finally found the grip they needed to boast new toys and mass marketed options. The Golden Age of Comic Books exploded in 1938 with the introduction of Action Comics and Superman and tie ins were soon to follow, along with the bucket loads of x-ray glasses, and hand held radios sold on the back pages of early comic books. Some might say the 1930s were the beginning of cheap, easily broken toys for that very reason (and for their inexpensive price point). The first movie character ever made into a doll was Scarlett O’Hara in 1939, by Madam Alexander.

    One of century’s best selling and most lasting legacies though started in the 1930s though with board games. Monopoly, Sorry, and Scrabble were all invented in the 1930s. While Scrabble took a few decades to get an audience, Monopoly was an immediate success and has been one of the best selling board games in America ever since.