Posts Tagged ‘1930s’

On this day in 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed by six policemen in rural Louisiana.  The couple led the infamous Barrow Gang, notable for robbing banks, stores, and gas stations across several states.  Over the course of two years, the gang killed nine police officers and several civilians, and they were labeled as public enemies.

Wanted poster for the Barrow Gang. Image courtesy of the Dallas Municipal Archives via Texas Heritage Online.

Their story gained national attention in 1933 when the gang escaped the police after a stand off at their hideout in Joplin, Missouri.  In their hurry to flee the scene, the gang left nearly all their possessions behind, and the police discovered a camera with several roles of undeveloped film and poetry by Parker.  The photographs depicted members of the gang posing in front of their car, often with firearms and cigars.

Photograph of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker standing together behind their car.  Image courtesy of the Dallas Municipal Archives via Texas Heritage Online.

Public fascination with the couple shortly turned to outrage after Barrow orchestrated a jailbreak in January 1934 followed by a series of murders in Texas and Oklahoma.  After the jailbreak, Captain Frank Hamer, a former Texas Ranger, organized a posse of policemen who began tracking the outlaws’ movements through the winter and spring of that year.  When it became clear that the group would soon visit one of the gang’s family members in Louisiana, the officers prepared an ambush.  They concealed themselves in the bushes along a rural road, and began firing as soon as Clyde’s Ford V8 approached.  They fired some 130 rounds at the car, killing both Bonnie and Clyde without offering a chance to surrender.

Officers inspect Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker’s bullet-riddled V8 Ford at the police impound after removing the couple’s bodies. Dallas County Sheriff Smoot Schmid is at left, hatless. Image courtesy of the Dallas Municipal Archives via Texas Heritage Online.

For more primary source materials related to Bonnie and Clyde, visit the Barrow Gang Collection at Texas Heritage Online.  You can also find out more about the public enemies of the Great Depression era through Opening History.


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On the morning of April 6,1936, a storm system that had been moving east through Alabama the previous evening struck Gainesville, GA.  Two tornadoes touched down separately and then merged to form what is often regarded the fifth deadliest tornado in United States history with an intensity of F4 on the Fujita scale.  A total of 203 people were confirmed dead in the wake of the storm and 40 additional people went missing. Below is an image of the destruction at the Cooper Pants Factory, which collapsed and caught fire, killing 70 workers on duty.  Recovery and relief efforts began in earnest three days later when President Roosevelt arrived in Gainesville with representatives from the American Red Cross, Civilian Conservation Corps, and Works Progress Administration.  The tornado caused over $13 million in damages, and it took two years to restore the city.

Cooper Company building demolished, Hall County, Georgia historical photograph collection, Hall County Library System.

Opening History includes an entire collection devoted to the Gainesville tornado and its aftermath.  In 2007, the Digital Library of Georgia worked in association with the Hall County Library System and the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection to create “1936 Gainesville Tornado: Disaster and Recovery“.

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On January 29, 1936, the first five men elected for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame were publicly announced: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson.  However, the official induction ceremony did not take place until 1939 when the Hall opened in Cooperstown, New York.  To date, 297 individuals have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and approximately 350,000 baseball fans make the pilgrimage to Cooperstown each year.

Ty Cobb with Young Boy in Seattle, ca. 1922. Image courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry, made available via King County Snapshots.

Walter Johnson and Babe Ruth during a charity baseball game held in Anaheim, CA in October 1924. Image courtesy of the Anaheim Public Library, made available via Calisphere.

Christy Mathewson in New York, ca. 1914. Image courtesy of the Bain Collection at the Library of Congress.

Honus Wagner, ca. 1910. Image courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art, made available via Historic Pittsburgh Images.

The images above were all culled from collections in Opening History where you can find additional primary source materials related to baseball and the history of sports in America.

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On January 3, 1938, President Roosevelt announced the creation of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, known today as the March of Dimes Foundation.  Originally founded in response to a series of polio epidemics, the organization was designed as a coalition between scientists and volunteer fundraisers.  The volunteers raised $233 million dollars by 1955, and the scientists created the Salk vaccine, effectively eliminating the threat of polio in the United States.

Mrs. Eunice Cook and a girl in a wheelchair representing the March of Dimes. Image courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art via Historic Pittsburgh.

With volunteer organizations across the country, fundraising efforts for the March of Dimes are documented in many local history collections, which can be found through Opening History.

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On December 15, 1939, Gone with the Wind premiered at Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia.  For the three days leading up to the premiere, the city of Atlanta celebrated with parades, parties, and a costume ball.  The occasion was further marked when the governor, Eurith D. Rivers, declared the day of the premiere a state holiday.

View of the crowd of people outside Loew's Grand Theater for the premiere of the movie, Gone With the Wind in Atlanta, Georgia. Image courtesy of the Atlanta History Center Album.

In the midst of the celebrity gatherings and celebrations, there were some notable absences in the crowd.  No black actors from the film were allowed to attend due to Georgia’s Jim Crow laws.  Clark Gable threatened to boycott the premiere until Hattie McDaniel, the actress who played Mammy in the film, urged him to attend.  McDaniel did, however, attend the Hollywood premiere, and she was the first African-American to win an Academy Award for her role in the film.

View of author Margaret Mitchell arriving at the premiere of the movie Gone With the Wind outside the Loew's Grand Theater on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Image courtesy of the Atlanta History Center Album.

Opening History provides access to documents from this and other moments in film history.  The Atlanta History Center Album has a large collection entirely devoted to the premiere of Gone with the Wind and its subsequent anniversary celebrations.

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The IMLS Digital Collections and Content project celebrates Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month by uploading to its Flickr photostream the images from the Wing Luke Asian Museum digital collection (part of the larger King County Snapshots digital collection). Three photographs below are from Wing Luke Asian Museum (King County Snapshots) Flickr photoset.

Japanese Pavilion at the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition, Seattle, 1909

Seven Chinese American women and one Caucasian woman, Seattle, ca. 1920

Four Boy Scouts, Seattle, August 1935

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On March 31st, 1933 Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was founded as part of the New Deal legislation to help relief high unemployment resulting from Great Depression.

Eleven digital collections in Opening History aggregation include a number of items in different formats (newspapers, posters, photographs, government documents, etc.) about CCC.

Both images below courtesy of Civilian Conservation Corps Collection, State of Utah. More information about this digital collection from Opening History aggregation.

CCC certificate

CCC certificate

CCC work site in Utah

A crew of enrollees, shovels in hand, pausing for a break at a CCC work site in Utah

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