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The Daily Herald Published The Effects Of Economic Depression In The 1930s

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In this new age of austerity the news is increasingly full of increasingly vitriolic debate about welfare and food banks. Run by charities and local groups these give short term emergency supplies to families with little or no money.

The Welcome - Free to the Needy mobile cafe, 1930, London News Agency © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

The Welcome – Free to the Needy mobile cafe, 1930, London News Agency © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

In the 1930s the Daily Herald newspaper took a keen interest in poverty, and how the economic depression affected both the working and the unemployed.

Woman and child in slum housing scene, Liverpool, c. 1935, Daily Herald © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Woman and child in slum housing scene, Liverpool, c. 1935, Daily Herald © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Staff photographers were dispatched to photograph charity in action – at mobile cafés, soup kitchens and food dispersal centres. They also photographed the effects of poverty – repossession of goods, substandard housing, and scavenging for coal.

Striking miners' families receive food from soup kitchen, 11 December 1935, Keystone © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Striking miners’ families receive food from soup kitchen, 11 December 1935, Keystone © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Man inside a slum house, c. 1935, Daily Herald © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Man inside a slum house, c. 1935, Daily Herald © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Around the same time George Orwell described his journey into poverty in Down and Out in Paris and London. At the end of his book, knowing that he would soon rejoin the ranks of the relatively comfortable he concluded:

“At present I do not feel that I have seen more than the fringe of poverty. Still, I can point to one or two things I have definitely learned by being hard up. I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken scoundrels, nor expect a beggar to be grateful when I give him a penny, nor be surprised if men out of work lack energy, nor subscribe to the Salvation Army, nor pawn my clothes, nor refuse a handbill, nor enjoy a meal at a smart restaurant. That is a beginning.”

Salvation Army distribute free food in East London, 22 February 1936, unknown photographer © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Salvation Army distribute free food in East London, 22 February 1936, unknown photographer © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Liverpool slums, c. 1935, Daily Herald © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Liverpool slums, c. 1935, Daily Herald © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Blackfriars free breakfast, c. 1933, Daily Herald © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Blackfriars free breakfast, c. 1933, Daily Herald © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Silver Lady' Betty Baxter hands out food from Welcome Canteen, c. 1934, Fox Photos © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Silver Lady’ Betty Baxter hands out food from Welcome Canteen, c. 1934, Fox Photos © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

East End family in their home with no money or food, The Topical Press Agency Ltd © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

East End family in their home with no money or food, The Topical Press Agency Ltd © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Silver Lady Night Cafe feeds the hungry and homeless, 21 June 1934, Weekly Illustrated © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Silver Lady Night Cafe feeds the hungry and homeless, 21 June 1934, Weekly Illustrated © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Written by Rebecca Smith

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  1. Malcolm Baird

    Very interesting post. Although I am a fan of George Orwell, I cannot understand why he objected to donating to the Salvation Army. I do so quite often.

    Malcolm Baird

    1. Rebecca Smith

      Thank you for your comment. I am glad you found the blogpost interesting.

      Orwell does seem to be prone to getting a bee in his bonnet about all sorts of ithings. I’m not entirely sure why the Salvation Army so irked him, but they join vegetarians, pacifists, and fruit juice drinkers in the firing line.
      I may not always agree with him, but I always admire his turn of phrase and clear succinct style.

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