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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 48
LETTER COMPARING CHICAGO POVERTY TO THE GRAPES OF WRATH
October 12, 1939



Explanation

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) published The Grapes of Wrath in 1939. It graphically described the plight of a family driven out of Oklahoma by the dust storms of the 1930s, their long and hard journey to California, and the tragedy of migrant life once in the land of plenty.

Albert Wentworth Palmer was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1879. He earned a doctor of divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California in 1922 and a doctor of laws degree from Olivett College in Michigan in 1931. He had been president and professor of practical theology at the Chicago Christian Theological Seminary since 1937. He was the author of five major monographs.

The governor was ill when this letter was received. His secretary forwarded it to Neil Jacoby at the University of Chicago for reply.

Points to Consider

What was Albert Palmer asking Governor Horner to do?

What was The Grapes of Wrath?

Compared to 1932 or 1933 how bad off were relief clients in Chicago in 1939?

Was Chicago guilty of "social blindness and inhumanity to the poor" in 1939?


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