Talking Politics During the Great Depression

It has been quite some time since I posted a letter.  I have the day off work today so I decided to reach into the trunk and choose a letter at random, and was thrilled with the one I selected.  It has it all…rich history (Great Depression era), use of technology (typewriter), political commentary, and personal anecdotes.

Here is a picture of the antique trunk where all the letters are kept in my home:


This letter was written by Dora Comfort to her friend Stella Key on October 31, 1938 (My birthday!  Well, my birthday was technically 48 years later, but I was still excited).

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This letter was written during the Great Depression in the United States, which began in 1929 and lasted until 1939.  Dora writes about the upcoming election, and how she will not be voting for “a single old democrat” this time. (For perspective, women only had the right  to vote for 18 years when Dora wrote this).

Dora’s letter was written in the midst of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second term.  In the 1938 election, the Democratic Party lost 72 seats in the House of Representatives to the Republican Party.  FDR was responsible for the New Deal, a series of programs, reforms, and regulations enacted by the government in order to restore prosperity to Americans after the worst downturn in economic history.  

Americans at the time (as this letter proves) were losing trust in the government, so the New Deal garnered quite a bit of criticism for giving the government too much power.  In 1941, three years after this letter was written, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, which essentially ended the Great Depression due to the war effort’s stimulation of the American economy.  

I smiled when reading the part of Dora’s letter that says, “Politics is the only thing you can hear on the radio now and will be until after next Tuesday Nov. 8.” Oh, Dora. If only you were alive today to see how that has evolved!

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Welcome, I'm Jessica. I renovated and moved into my grandparents' old home in early 2018. When my grandmother Jane was alive, she loved to sit outside on a swing with her cat Boots (who still lives here) and read. As we were cleaning up around the house I found a box of letters sitting in a swing outside that she was going through in the time before she passed. I stored them away and recently started reading through them myself. 100 Years of Letters is intended to share those family letters (some of which are over 100 years old) with the world and to keep the history behind them alive. Curl up with your coffee, a cozy blanket, and possibly a cat, and join me on this journey through history!

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