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Using Primary Sources in the Classroom:
The Great Depression Unit

Lesson 4: Relief !

1. Background information for teachers:

 

After the New Deal programs began to be implemented in 1933, relief in the form of help to supply basic necessities began to flow down to the states from the federal government. Relief committees were set up on the county level to purchase and distribute food to the needy. Following the principle of offering "a hand up, not a hand out," government programs of relief concentrated on supplying only essential foods to the truly destitute.

 

2. Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

 

1. Compare and contrast living standards of the Great Depression era with those of today.
2. Discuss the nutrition and health of the assisted during the Great Depression.

 

3. Suggested Lesson:

1. As a class, make a list of food items that the students believe is essential for survival.
2. Compare the list with the Relief Order for similarities and differences.
3. Ask the students if any of the foods listed need refrigeration. Why is this an important fact?

(Remember, electricity was not widespread in Alabama during the Great Depression. Ice was a luxury in some parts of the state so food that could be stored long periods of time were important to survival.)
4. How could these foods have supplemented the basic food groups? Are these healthy foods?
5. Using the grocery store ads attempt to determine the current prices of the Relief Order.
6. Remind students of differences in wages. Some families only had $5.00 per week for living costs.

 

Documents:

Document 1: Relief Order: 4/7/34, Gov. B.M. Miller, Administrative files, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.