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Remaking the HeartlandMiddle America since the 1950s$
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Robert Wuthnow

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691146119

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691146119.001.0001

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Recovering from the Great Depression

Recovering from the Great Depression

(p.22) Two Recovering from the Great Depression
Remaking the Heartland

Robert Wuthnow

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how the Middle West recovered from the ill effects of the Great Depression. The Great Depression was something Americans hoped they would never experience again. In the rural Midwest, foreclosures and sheriff's auctions were common. The worst drought years devastated the land. Dust storms blew with such intensity that crops failed and machinery broke down. World War II sparked the economy, revived agriculture, and coincided with better weather. However, the war took millions of men and women away from their families, necessitated mandatory rationing, and drove up prices. When it was over, rural communities faced continuing challenges. The chapter considers the case of Smith Center, Kansas, to illustrate the challenges rural communities faced as they overcame the setbacks of the Great Depression and prepared for the era ahead. Recovery from the Great Depression varied across middle America, but many of the dynamics evident in Smith County occurred elsewhere.

Keywords:   agriculture, Middle West, drought, Great Depression, dust storms, World War II, rural communities, Smith Center, Kansas, Smith County

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