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ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES


Hard Times in Illinois, 1930–1940

A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives


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DOCUMENT 33
LETTER CONCERNING THE RELIEF PROGRAM OR THE LACK THEREOF IN PITTSFIELD
November 26, 1934



Explanation

Up until November 19, 1934 the hourly minimum wage for the federal government's Emergency Work Relief Program had been thirty cents. After that date it was allowed to float in the various parts of the county. While in some places it dipped to as little as ten cents, in Illinois it remained at thirty for fear of public indignation. By the regulations of the Emergency Work Relief Program unemployed able-bodied men were put to work when funds were made available locally. For November 1934 Illinois as a whole was allocated $11,557,240 for this purpose. Men worked on public works projects building highways, streets, schools, sewers, playgrounds, levees, and the like.

In his November 27 response to this letter Walter McLaughlin explained that the Illinois Department of Agriculture had nothing to do with relief work and that inquiries would be best directed to the Illinois Emergency Relief Commission at 1319 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Points to Consider

Why had Herbert Vertrees written Walter McLaughlin?

Locate Pittsfield on a map.

What responsibility did the citizens of Pittsfield have for their destitute unemployed?

Why might Herbert Vertrees have written the director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture concerning this matter?


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