This project was geared towards comparing the perception of some of the major political, social and militaristic events which occurred during the Depression and the way they were perceived by Charlottesville residents through the lens of the local newspaper, The Daily Progress. Several ideas were developed and concluded out of this investigation.
It appears that, although the community was not incredibly wealthy, the city of Charlottesville was relatively well-off during the period of the Depression. This was determined by the fact that the newspaper paid very little close attention -- within the news stories and editorials -- to the actual consequences and effectiveness of the New Deal policies. The agencies of the New Deal were seen as, at best, far-off agencies which helped others in the country who were in need of economic assistance; or at worst, a waste of government spending which were just a series of "Alphabet Agencies, " named for their acronym titles. Also, the advertising in the newspaper during this time period was geared towards products desired by the well-off -- cars, air conditioners, fine clothes, tires and all kinds of food among the most common. Following the brief four-day bank closure in March of 1933, there were no more trouble with banks; and the city treated the bank holiday more like a "day off," then a financial crisis.
In some cases it also became apparent that the national news could, on occasion be bumped lower on the page as the result of more pressing local news -- even if the national news was incredibly newsworthy. The Daily Progress seemed to have no idea of the implications that the Stock Market Crash of 1929 might have on the local economy -- it was bumped in favor of a local story which editors thought more pressing for the people of Charlottesville. In other cases, especially in the situations of the development of government agencies and programs, these high-profile national stories were placed low on the page or inside the newspaper because it appeared the well-off citizens of Charlottesville, for the most part, did not care about these issues.
The overall picture presented by The Daily Progress during The Great Depression was normally not concentrated on too heavily in the news stories. Only for certain events which might have a larger effect on Charlottesville -- like the closing of the banks -- was there even a story which localized the issue and told what was actually happening in Charlottesville. For the most part it did not matter -- Charlottesville was a protected area of relative wealth. But usually editorials delved into the issues more deeply. The editorial pages at least gave the attention to the events going on "in the outside world" but consistently contributed to the tone of reassurance to the American people that business would go on as usual. In many cases, advertising and some localized news stories also helped to contribute to this construction of a reassurance for the people of Charlottesville. This became a large part of what The Daily Progress appeared to do during many parts of The Depression.
But while Charlottesville was indeed a sheltered cove, hidden from the economic storm during The Depression, nothing could hide it from the coming of World War II. When the Selective Service Act went into effect and the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the city of Charlottesville was once again put on a level playing field with the rest of the nation's cities, those that had suffered during the Depression and those that had not.
The contents of The Daily Progress during this time, therefore, told the story of a relatively wealthy city that survived a national depression with flying colors and was affected quite little by the harsh realities outside of its shell. But when World War II hit the nation with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, it not only ended the Depression for the whole nation, but it brought the whole nation into war -- and this time Charlottesville could not avoid the effects.
|October 29, 1929: Stock Market Crash||March 4, 1933: FDR Innaugurated||March 5, 1933: FDR declares 'bank holiday'||March 9, 1933: Emergency Banking Bill passed||May 12, 1933: Federal Emergency Relief Act passed||December 5, 1933: Repeal of Prohibition|
|May 6, 1935: WPA established||August 14, 1935 Social Security Act passed||November 3, 1936: FDR re-elected||February 3, 1937: National Guard prepared to strike workers in Flint, Michigan||September 16, 1940: Selective Service Act passed||December 7, 1941: Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor|