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People Like Ourselves: Forecast for Survey Graphic

by Paul Kellogg

November 1935

Population Shifts

Sociologists are sketching new lines and whorls like those on a weather map. These show the course of internal migration in the United States before and during the depression. The five million people who in the 1920s came to live in the cities, from small towns and country districts, made up a movement as momentous as the rush of settlers when the Erie Canal threw open the Middle West. Now, with hard times and the cave-in of urban payrolls, have come these back-set currents which are a challenge to social and industrial planning. It is the old story of people in search of a living.

Until our generation there was a relatively straight road to the frontier for the adventurous and the hardy. Now weak and strong alike seem to be milling about, drawn and driven by forces which as individuals they can neither understand nor control. Camps for migrants, subsistence homesteads, resettlement and colonization projects, schemes for modernizing rural life or decentralizing industry enter into the foreground of attention. Back of them range those basic questions of quantity, quality and distribution of population to which statisticians are alive but the public only half aroused.


Kay Davis, University of Virginia, © 2001-2003