The stock market crash of nineteen twenty-nine marked the beginning of the worst economic crisis in American history. Millions of people lost their jobs. Thousands lost their homes.
During the next several years, a large part of the richest nation on earth learned what it meant to be poor.
Workers lost their jobs as factories closed. Business owners lost their stores and sometimes their homes. Farmers lost their land as they struggled with falling prices and natural disasters.
And Americans were not the only ones who suffered.
One of America's greatest writers, John Steinbeck, described the depression this way:
"It was a terrible, troubled time. I can't think of any ten years in history when so much happened in so many directions. Violent change took place. Our country was shaped, our lives changed, our government rebuilt."
Steinbeck, winner of the nineteen sixty-two Nobel Prize in literature, said: "When the market fell, the factories, mines, and steelworks closed and then no one could buy anything, not even food."