The Invisible Women of the Great Depression

During the Great Depression, women made up 25% of the work force, but their jobs were more unstable, temporary or seasonal then men, and the unemployment rate was much greater. There was also a decided bias and cultural view that “women didn’t work” and in fact many who were employed full time often called themselves “homemakers.” Neither men in the workforce, the unions, nor any branch of government were ready to accept the reality of working women, and this bias caused females intense hardship during the Great Depression.

The 1930’s was particularly hard on single, divorced or widowed women, but it was harder still on women who weren’t White. Women of color had to overcome both sexual and racial stereotyping. Black women in the North suffered an astounding 42.9% unemployment, while 23.2%. of White women were without work according to the 1937 census. In the South, both Black and White women were equally unemployed at 26%. In contrast, the unemployment rate for Black and White men in the North (38.9%/18.1%) and South (18%/16% respectively) were also lower than female counterparts.

The financial situation in Harlem was bleak even before the Great Depression. But afterward, the emerging Black working class in the North was decimated by wholesale layoffs of Black industrial workers. To be Black and a woman alone, made keeping a job or finding another one nearly impossible. The racial work hierarchy replaced Black women in waitressing or domestic work, with White women, now desperate for work, and willing to take steep wage cuts.

Survival Entrepreneurs

At the start of the Depression, while one study found that homeless women were most likely factory and service workers, domestics, garment workers, waitresses and beauticians; another suggested that the beauty industry was a major source of income for Black women. These women, later known as “survivalist entrepreneurs,” became self-employed in response to a desperate need to find an independent means of livelihood.”

Replaced by White women in more traditional domestic work as cooks, maids, nurses, and laundresses, even skilled and educated Black women were so hopeless, ”that they actually offered their services at the so-called ‘slave markets’-street corners where Negro women congregated to await White housewives who came daily to take their pick and bid wages down” (Boyd, 2000 citing Drake and Cayton, 1945/1962:246). Moreover, the home domestic service was very difficult, if not impossible, to coordinate with family responsibilities, as the domestic servant was usually on call ”around the clock” and was subject to the ”arbitrary power of individual employers.”

Inn Keepers and Hairdressers

Two occupations were sought out by Black women, in order to address both the need for income (or barter items) and their domestic responsibilities in northern cities during the Great Depression: (1) boarding house and lodging house keeping; and (2) hairdressing and beauty culture.

During the “Great Migration” of 1915-1930, thousands of Blacks from the South, mostly young, single men, streamed into Northern cities, looking for places to stay temporarily while they searched for housing and jobs. Housing these migrants created opportunities for Black working-class women,-now unemployed-to pay their rent.

According to one estimate, ”at least one-third” of Black families in the urban North had lodgers or boarders during the Great Migration (Thomas, 1992:93, citing Henri, 1976). The need was so great, multiple boarders were housed, leading one survey of northern Black families to report that ”seventy-five percent of the Negro homes have so many lodgers that they are really hotels.”

Women were usually at the center of these webs of family and community networks within the Black community:

“They ”undertook the greatest part of the burden” of helping the newcomers find interim housing. Women played ”connective and leadership roles” in northern Black communities, not only because it was considered traditional “woman’s work,” but also because taking in boarders and lodgers helped Black women combine housework with an informal, income-producing activity (Grossman, 1989:133). In addition, boarding and lodging house keeping was often combined with other types of self-employment. Some of the Black women who kept boarders and lodgers also earned money by making artificial flowers and lamp shades at home.” (Boyd, 2000)

In addition from 1890 to 1940, ”barbers and hairdressers” were the largest segments of the Black business population, together comprising about one third of this population in 1940 (Boyd, 2000 citing Oak, 1949:48).

“Blacks tended to gravitate into these occupations because “White barbers, hairdressers, and beauticians were unwilling or unable to style the hair of Blacks or to provide the hair preparations and cosmetics used by them. Thus, Black barbers, hairdressers, and beauticians had a ”protected consumer market” based on Whites’ desires for social distance from Blacks and on the special demands of Black consumers. Accordingly, these Black entrepreneurs were sheltered from outside competitors and could monopolize the trades of beauty culture and hairdressing within their own communities.

Black women who were seeking jobs believed that one’s appearance was a crucial factor in finding employment. Black self-help organizations in northern cities, such as the Urban League and the National Council of Negro Women, stressed the importance of good grooming to the newly arrived Black women from the South, advising them to have neat hair and clean nails when searching for work. Above all, the women were told avoid wearing ”head rags” and ”dust caps” in public (Boyd, 2000 citing Drake and Cayton, 1945/1962:247, 301; Grossman, 1989:150-151).

These warnings were particularly relevant to those who were looking for secretarial or white-collar jobs, for Black women needed straight hair and light skin to have any chance of obtaining such positions. Despite the hard times, beauty parlors and barber shops were the most numerous and viable Black-owned enterprises in Black communities (e.g., Boyd, 2000 citing Drake and Cayton, 1945/1962:450-451).

Black women entrepreneurs in the urban North also opened stores and restaurants, with modest savings ”as a means of securing a living” (Boyd, 2000 citing Frazier, 1949:405). Called ”depression businesses,” these marginal enterprises were often classified as proprietorships, even though they tended to operate out of ”houses, basements, and old buildings” (Boyd, 2000 citing Drake and Cayton, 1945/1962:454).

“Food stores and eating and drinking places were the most common of these businesses, because, if they failed, their owners could still live off their stocks.”

“Protestant Whites Only”

These businesses were a necessity for Black women, as the preference for hiring Whites climbed steeply during the Depression. In the Philadelphia Public Employment Office in 1932 & 1933, 68% of job orders for women specified “Whites Only.” In New York City, Black women were forced to go to separate unemployment offices in Harlem to seek work. Black churches and church-related institutions, a traditional source of help to the Black community, were overwhelmed by the demand, during the 1930’s. Municipal shelters, required to “accept everyone,” still reported that Catholics and African American women were “particularly hard to place.”

No one knows the numbers of Black women left homeless in the early thirty’s, but it was no doubt substantial, and invisible to the mostly white investigators. Instead, the media chose to focus on, and publicize the plight of White, homeless, middle-class “white collar” workers, as, by 1931 and 1932, unemployment spread to this middle-class. White-collar and college-educated women, usually accustomed “to regular employment and stable domicile,” became the “New Poor.” We don’t know the homeless rates for these women, beyond an educated guess, but of all the homeless in urban centers, 10% were suggested to be women. We do know, however, that the demand for “female beds” in shelters climbed from a bit over 3,000 in 1920 to 56,808 by 1932 in one city and in another, from 1929 -1930, demand rose 270%.

“Having an Address is a Luxury Now…”

Even these beds, however, were the last stop on the path towards homelessness and were designed for “habitually destitute” women, and avoided at all cost by those who were homeless for the first time. Some number ended up in shelters, but even more were not registered with any agency. Resources were few. Emergency home relief was restricted to families with dependent children until 1934. “Having an address is a luxury just now” an unemployed college woman told a social worker in 1932.

These newly destitute urban women were the shocked and dazed who drifted from one unemployment office to the next, resting in Grand Central or Pennsylvania station, and who rode the subway all night (the “five cent room”), or slept in the park, and who ate in penny kitchens. Slow to seek assistance, and fearful and ashamed to ask for charity, these women were often on the verge of starvation before they sought help. They were, according to one report, often the “saddest and most difficult to help.” These women “starved slowly in furnished rooms. They sold their furniture, their clothes, and then their bodies.”

The Emancipated Woman and Gender Myths

If cultural myths were that women “didn’t work,” then those that did were invisible. Their political voice was mute. Gender role demanded that women remain “someone’s poor relation,” who returned back to the rural homestead during times of trouble, to help out around the home, and were given shelter. These idyllic nurturing, pre-industrial mythical family homes were large enough to accommodate everyone. The new reality was much bleaker. Urban apartments, no bigger than two or three rooms, required “maiden aunts” or “single cousins” to “shift for themselves.” What remained of the family was often a strained, overburdened, over-crowded household that often contained severe domestic troubles of its own.

In addition, few, other than African Americans, were with the rural roots to return to. And this assumed that a woman once emancipated and tasting past success would remain “malleable.” The female role was an out-of-date myth, but was nonetheless a potent one. The “new woman” of the roaring twenties was now left without a social face during the Great Depression. Without a home–the quintessential element of womanhood–she was, paradoxically, ignored and invisible.

“…Neighborliness has been Stretched Beyond Human Endurance.”

In reality, more than half of these employed women had never married, while others were divorced, deserted, separated or claimed to be widowed. We don’t know how many were lesbian women. Some had dependent parents and siblings who relied on them for support. Fewer had children who were living with extended family. Women’s wages were historically low for most female professions, and allowed little capacity for substantial “emergency” savings, but most of these women were financially independent. In Milwaukee, for example, 60% of those seeking help had been self-supporting in 1929. In New York, this figure was 85%. Their available work was often the most volatile and at risk. Some had been unemployed for months, while others for a year or more. With savings and insurance gone, they had tapped out their informal social networks. One social worker, in late 1931, testified to a Senate committee that “neighborliness has been stretched not only beyond its capacity but beyond human endurance.”

Older women were often discriminated against because of their age, and their long history of living outside of traditional family systems. When work was available, it often specified, as did one job in Philadelphia, a demand for “white stenographers and clerks, under (age) 25.”

The Invisible Woman

The Great Depression’s effect on women, then, as it is now, was invisible to the eye. The tangible evidence of breadlines, Hoovervilles, and men selling apples on street corners, did not contain images of urban women. Unemployment, hunger and homelessness was considered a “man’s problem” and the distress and despair was measured in that way. In photographic images, and news reports, destitute urban women were overlooked or not apparent. It was considered unseemly to be a homeless woman, and they were often hidden from public view, ushered in through back door entrances, and fed in private.

Partly, the problem lay in expectations. While homelessness in men had swelled periodically during periods of economic crisis, since the depression of the 1890’s onward, large numbers of homeless women “on their own” were a new phenomenon. Public officials were unprepared: Without children, they were, early on, excluded from emergency shelters. One building with a capacity of 155 beds and six cribs, lodged over 56,000 “beds” during the third year of the depression. Still, these figures do not take account the number of women turned away, because they weren’t White or Protestant.

As the Great Depression wore on, wanting only a way to make money, these women were excluded from “New Deal” work programs set up to help the unemployed. Men were seen as “breadwinners,” holding greater claim to economic resources. While outreach and charitable agencies finally did emerge, they were often inadequate to meet the demand.

Whereas black women had particular hard times participating in the mainstream economy during the Great Depression, they did have some opportunity to find alternative employment within their own communities, because of unique migration patterns that had occurred during that period. White women, in contrast, had a keyhole opportunity, if they were young and of considerable skills, although their skin color alone offered them greater access to whatever traditional employment was still available.

The rejection of traditional female roles, and the desire for emancipation, however, put these women at profound risk once the economy collapsed. In any case, single women, with both black and white skin, fared worse and were invisible sufferers.

As we enter the Second Great Depression, who will be the new “invisible homeless” and will women, as a group, fare better this time?


Abelson, E. (2003, Spring2003). Women Who Have No Men to Work for Them: Gender and Homelessness in the Great Depression, 1930-1934. Feminist Studies, 29(1), 104. Retrieved January 2, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.

Boyd, R. (2000, December). Race, Labor Market Disadvantage, and Survivalist Entrepreneurship: Black Women in the Urban North During the Great Depression. Sociological Forum, 15(4), 647-670. Retrieved January 2, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.

Men, Women, and Sex

During my many years of counseling couples, I have frequently worked

with the sexual problems that often occur in committed relationships.

The most common complaint from men regarding sex is frequency, and

the most common complaint from woman is lack of emotional intimacy.

There is a very good reason why these are the most common

complaints – men and women are very different when it comes to sex!

The biological sexual drive, or lack of it, relates to how much

testosterone is present. Men biologically have much more testosterone

than women. Men’s biology equips them to be ready for sex most of the

time, which is nature’s way of ensuring the survival of the species.

Women, on the other hand, often do not experience a biological sexual

drive unless they are in the middle of their menstrual cycle. This fact can

create a big problem in relationships.

I’ve often heard men complain that:

“It’s not fair. My wife is in control of our sex life. If she wants it, then we

have it. If she doesn’t, then I have no say about it. Why does it always

have to be her way?”

“My wife complains that she needs to feel intimate before we make love,

but I get to intimacy through making love.”

“I don’t reach out for sex much anymore because I’m tired of being

rejected, but my wife says she wants to be pursued in a romantic way.

This feels like a no-win to me.”

“I think if my wife really cared about me and my needs, she would have

sex with me even when she wasn’t turned on.”

I’ve often heard women complain that:

“He always seems to be ready for sex, but I don’t feel turned on unless

we are feeling close. I can’t just watch TV all evening and then feel like

making love.”

“I often feel pulled on for sex, as if having sex is more important than

caring about me. When I do what he wants, I feel used, and when I don’t,

I run into his anger, resentment, blame or withdrawal. It feels like a no-


“My husband often comes to me like a needy little boy, wanting me to

pacify him or validate him with sex. Ugh! There is nothing erotic about

an insecure, needy little boy!”

“There must be something wrong with me. I just don’t ever feel turned on


The very real issue here, at least for most men under 40, is that they are

biologically motivated and women are mostly emotionally motivated.

Heterosexual women get turned on when their man is warm, open,

caring, and personally powerful. Most women are not turned on by a

man who is closed, distant, angry, blaming, or needy.

The problems of frequency can get resolved as men and women learn

to understand and accept each other’s differences. Men need to

understand and accept that women are not as biologically motivated as

men are. Many women rarely even think about sex, while most men will

tell you that they think about sex frequently throughout the day. When

men understand that women are turned on by love, romance, emotional

intimacy, warmth, caring, and personal power, then men may be

motivated to learn to be the loving, powerful and romantic partners that

women want and need.

When women can accept that men’s biology is very present for them,

they can stop putting men down for it and start supporting their men in

creating more emotional intimacy, romance, and personal power. When

women criticize men instead of understanding and accepting them, they

help to create some of the insecurity that is such a turn off to many

women. When a woman can appreciate rather than demean her man for

his sexuality, she can find ways of meeting his needs without feeling


Understanding and accepting each other’s differences and needs can

lead both men and women toward more satisfying sex lives.

Orgasm in Women – Tips to Give Your Woman That Big "O"

Men and women alike are curious about that big ‘O’ or orgasm in women. Indeed, many women may not have explored the ways to experience that intense pleasure in lovemaking. Men on the other hand are baffled with how to please their women in bed and are curious how to give orgasm to their women.

If you are one of the men who want to be good lover, or if you just want to please your wife in bed, you can actually find some tips and ideas that might help you give an orgasm to your woman.

– Make her feel relaxed and comfortable. One thing that can make an orgasm in women happen is to make her free from worries and tension at the start of the act. Although a big part of this should be taken cared of by the woman herself, you can help her with this by making her feel relaxed and comfortable. A good massage is a good option you can do at this point.

– Prolonged foreplay. Yes, women love foreplay – gentle touching, caressing their faces, kissing their neck and even running your hands through their hair are actions that make them feel loved and appreciated. Tell her you love her and reinforce your actions with words. Foreplay slowly builds sexual tension in women and sets their body and mind towards the lovemaking. The mind is powerful organ involved in the sexual act. If you want to give a woman orgasm, you must also make sure her mind is totally set and focused in enjoying the lovemaking and foreplay can do wonders in that aspect.

– Orgasm in women may not be through intercourse. You have to understand that not all women can reach orgasm through intercourse, and some may also need to be in a specific sexual position to reach orgasm during intercourse. You have to understand too that most often orgasm in women can be achieved not through intercourse but through oral or manual stimulation of the clitoris. Some women may even reach orgasm without them knowing it. If you are determined to please your woman in bed and give your woman that big ‘O,’ you have to explore the many ways to pleasure your woman.

– Ask what pleases her. Giving your woman an orgasm may start from asking her what she wants. Although the ability of the woman to reach orgasm relies mainly on her, you can however please her in bed by helping her reach that intense sexual pleasure. You can let her feel comfortable to open up to what she really wants or you can ask her. It could be the best way to know what pleasures her. One technique that can make this easy for you and your woman is to learn how to talk dirty. Making her feel comfortable about talking dirty can lead to making her say what she wants you to do to pleasure her.

Indeed, orgasm in women can be quite a challenge for men, but if you know some techniques on how to give it to her, for sure you’ll enjoy a great sex life with your partner and an exciting relationship as well.

The Tuft-Eared Squirrels

Along a narrow belt in the Rocky Mountain range from northern Colorado through the Grand Canyon plateau, and on into Mexico, are found the tuft-eared squirrels. This group is unique among North American squirrels because of conspicuous tufts of long hairs on the ears. They easily attract attention because of their large size and showy coloration. There is considerable variation in their coloring, and these forms, resident in definite areas, have been given subspecific names. Along the South Rim of Grand Canyon, and as far south as the Mogollon Mountains, we find Sciurus aberti aberti, upperparts gray with a conspicuous cinnamon or reddish stripe down the back; underparts snowy white, tail dark above, but showing white along the edges and all white on the underside. Just across the Canyon, on the North Rim, Sciurus kaibabensis, the Kaibab squirrel, is quite different in appearance, being very dark to black all over with an all-white tail.

Far to the north, in a narrow strip in central Colorado, lives Sciurus aberti ferreus, which lacks the reddish stripe on its gray back. Its plumy tail is gray edged with white. In this region a melanistic phase sometimes appears, being uniformly dark brown to black all over. In southwestern Colorado and into northern New Mexico is found Sciurus aberti minus, a paler form resembling S. aberti aberti. The tuft-eared squirrels live in the Transition and Canadian zones, building nests of twigs, leaves and pine needles. They will line the nest with a piece of your rope clothes-line, or your extra pair of socks, if you leave them out. Nests are usually so high in tall pines or firs as to be inconspicuous, and, sometimes, a hollow tree may be used. S. aberti has a habit, as he sits on a branch scolding you, of patting one front foot as he talks. Young are born in early spring, but a second or late litter is not uncommon.

Three or four in number is the usual litter. They had apparently been orphaned, because they were on the ground hunting food. Since bread or nuts did not register as food, we gave them warmed milk administered with a medicine dropper in lieu of a nipple, after one had readily climbed up an extended hand and arm. At first they slept six hours between feedings, and milk was their fare for a week. Then bread and milk in a saucer, and, gradually, bits of melon, or apple and pecans were offered. They loved pecans, but would never touch peanuts, in roasted form at least. After caring for the two orphans for three weeks we liberated them on the south rim of Grand Canyon, where we knew they would have the protection that all wildlife enjoys in the National Parks.

Could Fat Be Infectious?

How your friends behave in the eating “arena” has more of an impact on you than family, genes, or prior disposition or habits. In fact, even friends you don’t see often, if they are still “close” to you emotionally can impact your own weight.

We like to think we make our own choices, don’t we? Whether it comes to picking out a pair of shoes, or what goes into our mouths. Yet, in a nutshell, the study–which is credited with accuracy for being carefully controlled and spans many years–shows that if your best friend puts on lots of weight over the years, you are more likely to do the same yourself than if she stays slim.

The study’s author, a Harvard professor, points out that in a sense, we’ve known this all along. “Who you tend to hang out with, weight-wise, is more important than who your next-door-neighbor is.” Likewise, “When overweight or obesity becomes normal in a given social circle, people may be more likely to become obese themselves.”

The good news? (There is good news!) It works both ways. The healthier the people you hang with, the healthier you are likely to try and be yourself. These findings are true for Jeanine and all the ladies in the Swimsuit Club (my newest fiction work-in-progress) Being a member of the Club helps Jeanine stay motivated to swim, and eventually, to take much better care of herself. (You’ll have to tune in to the blog for more about Jeanine and her weight problem, or watch for more articles from me.)

The blog is where my characters come to life, telling their secret thoughts–before the book is out! Issues on their minds are such things as self-image, eating disorders, fashion and how what you wear creates a statement about you; Christian living in a sex-saturated society, and whether purity is a tenable option for today. For people like Jeanine, we shall see how even overweight women have lots of power in deciding how they want the world to see them–whether they lose weight or not.

(Quotes from Amanda Gardner, as seen in DivineEloquence Magazine, Aug/Sept’07)

Funny Wedding Speeches – 3 Things You Need to Know to Make ‘Em Laugh

Let’s face it – Giving a wedding speech can be tough stuff. While some people might enjoy standing in front of a large crowd just talking their ear off, I know the average person would rather just skip the whole speech part. The thing that I must say, however, is that if you are in a wedding party, the wedding speech is practically inevitable. Since this is the case, why not make the most of it? Keep the crowd interested by making your speech funny!

Here are 3 tips that can help you keep your speech funny and interesting:

#1 – Use One-Liners, but Don’t Overdo It

Find some great one-liners that people will appreciate and incorporate them into your speech. Do it tastefully, and use them when appropriate. If you have some crafty one-liners, you’ll keep the crowd on their feet. Cleaver one-liners always work well in my book.

#2 – Use Actions and Use Enthusiasm In Your Voice

Saying funny lines in a dull tone will kill the humor in your speech. Match your tone and deliver your speech with enthusiasm. Use actions to help describe your words. Sometimes people understand things better if you can act them out. Don’t act out too much to the point where you are a flap-jack, wailing your arms all over the place and becoming a distraction to everyone. Just use common sense and you’ll be good.

#3 – Mold Your Humor Around The Bride/Groom’s Personality

You’ll know exactly how far you can push the button by doing this. If the bride/groom have a very humorous personality and find a lot of things funny, you will really be able to go over the edge. Also consider the crowd you will be reciting your speech in front of. How well will they take you and your “funnies”. If you know what makes the bride/groom laugh, you’re set!

Source by Bryan Hufford

This Power Will Raise You Up

There is a power already in you that will bring you to the place that you want, the place of your dreams. You simply must make the decision to go there! That’s right just one thing to do. Close your eyes and let the silence come in. Then raise your heart in joy and feel the love inside start to shine.

You are here to spread the light of your soul not the despair in your heart. You are here to bring the world up to a better level of understanding not to leave yourself out of it. The purpose which burns bright in your soul is not just for you. It is for all to share and immerse themselves in. It is the dance of your spirit which brings the soul to life.

Your life should be a daily celebration! Yes and you should be proud of who you are and what you do. It is not the choice of our vocations that makes us who we are. It is the voice of our souls our spirit if you will that give light to our lives.

Are you celebrating yet? Well you should! Life is meant to be enjoyed. It is the little things as well as the big things. Maybe you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff, but appreciate everything in your view. Raise your arms in praise that you are alive today and today is another opportunity to live the life of your dreams.

It is that inner spirit that inner song that wants to be expressed through you! We all have it. Let your voice ring that bell of freedom. Let your voice be heard from the mountain tops and over the fields of this good earth! Take that trip in your mind. Release yourself from the shackles that bind you to silence. You can speak up, reach up and reach out to help everyone around you.

All you need is a thought of letting go and let the celebration begin! This country was founded through a thirst for freedom of not only religion but to enable one to succeed in life and to raise their voice whether in opposition or in unison. What matter is this that one is silent when they should speak?

Your voice in song cries for freedom, yet takes no action to live the life of one’s dreams. You don’t need to fear, this power in you and everyone has with it the right to be heard. Drop those weights that hold you down and allow that power to move. Stop blocking that which wants to express itself through you.

Life can be so joyful and beautiful if you just believe that it is. I will be here to catch your song in the air of life! You can vibrate with life. You know that the joy and love that you feel will bring you that connection that you need. It is through these emotions that we can release our spirit and allow that flow. That power dances inside you and I know it does.

Do yourself a favor and sing that song, lift your heart and arms in praise. Feel that power vibrate in you. Raise yourself up and you will stand on the shoulders of giants.

Source by John Tebar