The People History

What Happened in 1932 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture

1932 Major News Stories including US unemployment reaches 24% with many living in cars and shanty towns, Mahatma Gandhi goes on hunger strike, Sydney Harbor Bridge Opens, Al Capone convicted for Income Tax Evasion, The Great Depression now Worldwide, Franklin D Roosevelt wins US Election by Landslide,

In 1932 the economy continued to deteriorate and unemployment increased further to 24.1% , there were few jobs and many ordinary Americans were forced into living in the streets or in old cars. Towards the end of the year in November the American voter used the power of Democracy to show Herbert Hoover what they thought of his term of presidency during these bad times and voted strongly in favor of Franklin D Roosevelt by 472 electoral votes to 59. Around the world changes also occurred when the British jailed the Indian nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi , also in Britain the first ever splitting of the Atom occurred , and in Russia major problems with the agricultural policy caused mass starvation and death.
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Cost of Living 1932

How Much things cost in 1932
Average Cost of new house $6,510.00
Average wages per year $1,650.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 10 cents
Average Cost for house rent $18.00 per month
A loaf of Bread 7 cents
New Car Average Price $610.00
A LB of Hamburger Meat 10 cents
Sugar $1.25 per 25LB Sack
Pork and Beans 5 cents can
Oranges 14 for 25 cents
Chuck Roast 15 cents per pound
White Potatoes 19 cents for 10LBs
Prices for UK guides in Pounds Sterling
Average House Price 540

The Great Depression By Country

The reasons for the Great Depression are varied and complicated but 6 major factors that are thought to have contributed are listed below not in any specific order as to relevance
  1. Wall Street Crash on October 29th, 1929
  2. Banks began to fail in October 1930
  3. The US introduces import tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to record levels leading to other countries following suit
  4. Due to bank failures ( no federal deposit insurance existed ) people withdrew money from the banks to keep in currency or gold making the problem worse
  5. Drought Conditions and over mechanization of farming caused great area's of the midwest to become Dust Bowls
  6. Economic cost of World War I still a problem stifling investment ( Worldwide )

United States -- Great Depression

  • 13 million Americans unemployed.
  • More than 24.5% of the population are unemployed
  • 10s of thousands load up all belongings and live in cars going from place to place looking for work
  • Hooverville's or shanty towns appear around the country built by homeless people using wood from crates, cardboard, scraps of metal, or whatever materials were available to them
  • 43,000 marchers Inc. 17,000 World War I vets ( Bonus Army ) march to Washington DC on May 29th and set up campgrounds demanding early payments of cash bonuses to help survive the Great Depression.
  • Troops under the orders of General Douglas MacArthur advanced with bayonets and sabers drawn under a shower of bricks and rocks, but no shots were fired. In less than four hours, the troops cleared the Bonus Army's campground using tear gas.
  • Comptroller of the Currency (or OCC) announces temporary halt by banks of foreclosures
  • The Revenue Act raised United States tax rates across the board, with the rate on top incomes rising from 25 percent to 63 percent.
  • The first federal gasoline tax part of the Revenue Act taxes apply of 1 cent per gallon on June 6th .
  • The Emergency Relief and Construction Act enacted July 21, was the United States's first major-relief legislation to fund public works hoping to put millions back to work, enabled under Herbert Hoover and later adopted and expanded by Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of his New Deal.
  • Government and Companies implement wage cuts up to 30% for those lucky enough to be in employment
  • Government and Companies cut working hours for those in employment hoping to provide more jobs for those who are unemployed.
  • Due to Malnutrition and poor health Tuberculosis becomes widespread throughout the US
  • The Communist Party of America organizes a "March on Hunger" in Detroit
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt wins a landslide presidential election on November 8th
  • The United States forced 1000's of thousands of Mexicans out of the country during the recession years
  • American loans to help rebuild the German economy end

UK -- Great Depression

  • Over 20% of the workforce are unemployed and in area's reliant on heavy industry up to 30% are unemployed unemployment reaches nearly 3 million
  • Millions are forced to use soup kitchens as a way of life.
  • Due to lack of benefits many are forced to search old coal slag heaps hoping to find coal to use for heating
  • Import tariffs are introduced at a rate of 10% on all imports except those from the countries of the British Empire **
  • Public sector wages and unemployment cut by 10%, and income tax was raised from 22.5% to 25%. **
  • The largest National Hunger March during the great depression marches to London in September / October and are met by 70,000 Police including mounted police using force to disperse the demonstrators.
  • The worst effects of the great depression happen in the north including Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, Tyneside, Sheffield, Lancashire and Glasgow
  • 200,000 unemployed men are sent to the work camps, which continued in operation until 1939
** Enacted Late 1931

Australia -- Great Depression

  • Due to it's reliance on dependence on exports and import tariffs being imposed around the world it is one of heaviest hit countries
  • Unemployment reached a record high of 29%
  • Civil unrest occurs in Sidney

Canada -- Great Depression

  • In addition to the Great Depression Canada was also affected by the Dust Bowls caused by sever drought
  • Unemployment reached 27%
  • Canada like many other countries employed a highly restrictive immigration policy

Germany -- Great Depression

  • Due to the devastation and loss in World War I Germany was one of the worst effected countries due to other countries including the United States ending aid for rebuilding the country
  • Unemployment rate reached nearly 30%
  • Due to massive rise in unemployment the radical Nazi Party headed by Hitler came to power in January 1933.

 Back In Time Gifts

United Kingdom -- BBC First TV Programming

More about the Creation of the BBC
The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) debuts its first experimental public television programming during August. The BBC began the broadcasts in the basement of their London headquarters, in what was known as the “Broadcasting House.” The programming was created as a means to test out the abilities of the technology and was produced and engineered by Eustace Robb and Douglas Birkinshaw. The early programming featured performances by dancers and musicians, athletic demonstrations, and art showcases. As the technology of television broadcasting advanced in the mid-1930s, these programs were replaced by the official “BBC Television Service” in November of 1936.

USA -- Earhart Solo Atlantic Crossing

Amelia Earhart completes the first non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a woman during May. Earhart flew her Lockheed Vega plane from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland in just under fifteen hours. The 34 year old pilot was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for this accomplishment. She had originally intended to land in Paris, France to emulate Charles Lindbergh’s historic 1927 flight but had to land early due to poor weather and technical issues.

India -- Gandhi Hunger Strike

Mahatma Gandhi completed a six day “fast unto death” starting on September 16th to protest the new British-backed laws that aimed to separate India’s electoral system by castes. The changes would divide lower and higher castes, giving them separate political representation within the government. Gandhi believed the change would permanently divide India and promote an unfair system. Gandhi’s fast began at Yerwada Central Jail in Pune, where he had been imprisoned since January, but he was moved to a more private location after a few days. Gandhi’s fast was successful in that the government agreed to keep India’s castes electorally undivided.


United States -- Stimson Doctrine

  • The Stimson Doctrine is created by Secretary of State Henry Stimson.
More Information for the Stimson Doctrine
The Stimson Doctrine was adopted by the United States government during January . Created by Secretary of State Henry Stimson, the doctrine stated that the United States would not recognize any territorial changes created by Japan's invasion and capture of Manchuria in China. Despite the statement, Japan continued to expand its control over parts of China and increased its aggression by bombing Shanghai. The ineffectiveness of the Stimson Doctrine was considered one of the many points in international politics during the early 1930's that would eventually lead to World War II.


Iraq -- Kingdom of Iraq Independence

The Kingdom of Iraq becomes independent from Great Britain at the urging of King Faisal on October 3rd. Iraq had been under British control since 1920 after the end of World War I and before that it had been a part of the Ottoman Empire. At the same time that they became independent it was also admitted to the League of Nations. Iraq remained as a Kingdom until 1958 when the monarchy was overthrown and a Republic was declared.


United States -- Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics were held in Lake Placid, New York during February. A total of 252 athletes (231 men, 21 women) from just 17 different countries attended these games and participated in the 14 events. Due to the Great Depression, funding for these games was difficult to put together and some of the land used for events was donated. The United States won the most medals with 12, Norway came in second with 10, and Canada was third with 7 medals. These were the first Olympic Games to feature the 3-tier staggered medal podium.

Germany -- Paul von Hindenburg Elected

As the collapse of the Weimar Republic was on the horizon, German President Paul von Hindenburg was re-elected in April, defeating Adolf Hitler in a run-off election. The 84-year-old Hindenburg ran in an attempt to lessen the Nazi party’s influence on Germany as he was believed to be the only politician popular enough to defeat Hitler. While his victory temporarily blocked the Nazis from taking over Germany, it was short-lived as Hitler maneuvered himself into a position of power when he was appointed Chancellor in 1933. Hindenburg soon began dismantling civil liberties and then died in 1934, giving Hitler the opportunity to consolidate power and establish a Nazi dictatorship.

USA -- Los Angeles Summer Olympics

The Summer Olympics, officially titled the “Games of the X Olympiad,” began in Los Angeles, California during July. These were the ninth modern games to be held and 37 countries participated. The number of participating countries was lower than usual due to high travel costs during the Great Depression. A total of 1,334 athletes participated in 117 events. These were the first games to feature the photo-finish camera. The United States took home the most medals with a total of 103, followed by Italy with 36 and Finland with 25. American track and field star Babe Didrikson was the break-out athlete of these games, winning gold medals in the 80m hurdles and javelin throw and a silver medal in the high jump.

U.S. - Bonus Army

  • The Bonus Army marches on Washington D.C.
More Information for the Bonus Army
During June , around 20,000 men who were World War I veterans marched to Washington, D.C. in protest. The group, nicknamed the "Bonus Army," went to the Capitol to lobby the government for early payment of their cash bonuses. Due to the Great Depression, many World War I veterans found themselves out of work and in need of assistance. They had been promised bonuses but they were not to be distributed until 1945. The Congress at the time failed to pass the bill that would give them their payments and eventually President Hoover sent the army to disperse the protesters, which ended with the encampments being burned down. Congress was able to successfully award the Bonus Army their early cash bonuses in 1936.

United States -- Lindbergh Kidnapping

  • Charles Lindbergh son is kidnapped.
More Information for Lindbergh Kidnapping
1. Charles Lindbergh's 20-month-old son was kidnapped from the Lindbergh mansion in New Jersey during March .
2. Lindbergh was known as the famed pilot who completed the first solo flight across the Atlantic.
3. His wife discovered the child to be missing and found a ransom note. Investigators struggled to find any clues as to who committed the crime until another note was found asking for $70,000.
4. The Lindberghs delivered the money but did not find their baby at the location that was given to them.
5. Instead, the child's body was found less than a mile from their home and where he was thought to have died on the same night as the kidnapping.
6. There were no new leads on the case for 2 years until Bruno Hauptmann tried using a marked bill from the ransom and was arrested for the crimes, convicted and sentenced to death.
7. The high-profile case was a factor in making kidnapping a federal crime.

United States -- Buck Rogers of the 25th Century

  • The radio program Buck Rogers of the 25th Century makes its debut.
More Information and Timeline for Buck Rogers Radio Show
1. The Buck Rogers character was taken from stories in pulp magazines and newspaper comic strips from the late Twenties. The stories that were featured on the program centered on Buck who was a modern man from the present time who had fallen into a state of suspended animation by accident, to be later discovered and awakened in the year 2419. The show focused on him discovering the world of the future and having adventures.
2. The old time radio program "Buck Rogers of the 25th Century" debuts on November 7, on the CBS radio network.
3. This was the first science-fiction radio program to be aired and it became quite popular, running until 1936 only to be revived again in 1939/1940 and again in 1946/1947.
4. The program was later adapted to films and television in the 1950's and 1970s.

Calendar For The Year 1932

1932 Calendar


  • A series of Tornadoes on March 21st killed at least 184 persons in Alabama, Georgia Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina.

Al Capone
  • Al Capone convicted for Income Tax Evasion

Olympic Games
  • The Tenth Summer Olympic Games Opens in Los Angeles

Radio City Music Hall
  • New York Radio City Music Hall Opened

Sydney Harbor Bridge Opens
  • Sydney Harbor Bridge Openson March 19th Joining the central business district and the North Shore, The bridge took just under 10 years to complete

Amelia Earhart
  • Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to make a solo air crossing of the Atlantic Ocean

Winter Olympics
  • The Winter Olympic Games are held in Lake Placid, New York, United States

Mahatma Gandhi
  • On September 16th Mahatma Gandhi goes on hunger strike in opposition to Britain new Caste Separation Laws

Famine in USSR
  • Massive Famine in USSR with estimates of 5 million deaths caused by starvation

Little Orphan Annie
  • On April 6th First Children's Serial Little Orphan Annie is transmitted on Radio

Great Britain Abandons Gold Standard
  • Great Britain Abandons Gold Standard

Great Britain great depression
  • As the great depression spreads world wide thousands of British ships are rusting in harbors because there are no goods to export

Car Production
  • Number of Cars Produced World Wide 36 Million

2500 banks in the US fail
  • Following the Wall Street Crash 2500 banks in the US fail

  • Australia Gains Independence From Great Britain

Popular Culture

  • Tarzan the Ape Man opens, with Olympic gold medal swimmer Johnny Weissmuller in the title role
  • Some of the most famous names in Hollywood star in films made this year below is just an example
  • Spencer Tracy , Bette Davis , Jean Harlow , Bing Crosby , John Wayne , Marlene Dietrich
  • Joan Crawford , Boris Karloff , Clarke Gable , Edward G. Robinson
  • Just a couple of hits from that year
  • " All Of Me " by Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra
  • "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" Bing Crosby

Born This Year

Jacques Chirac November 29th
Little Richard December 5th
Johnny Cash February 26th
Charlie Rich December 14th
John Updike March 18th
Petula Clark November 15th -- Epsom, Surrey, England
Patsy Cline September 8th -- Winchester, Virginia U.S.
Jenny Craig August 7th -- Berwick, Louisiana, U.S.
Ingemar Johansson September 22nd -- Gothenburg, Sweden
Casey Kasem April 27th -- Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Ted Kennedy February 22nd -- Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Sonny Liston May 8th -- Sand Slough, Arkansas, U.S.
Loretta Lynn April 14th -- Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, USA
Donald Rumsfeld July 9th -- Evanston, Illinois, USA
Omar Sharif April 10th -- Alexandria, Egypt
Elizabeth Taylor February 27th -- Hampstead, London, England
Robert Vaughn November 22nd -- New York City, New York, USA
John Williams February 8th -- Queens, New York, USA


  • The Parking meter is invented in Oklahoma
  • The BBC starts a regular television service, using John Logie Baird's 30-line system

Inventions Invented by Inventors and Country ( or attributed to First Use )
Radio Telescope USA by Karl Jansky
BBC Television England first regular TV broadcasts (London)
Polaroid USA by Edwin Herbert Land

Major World Political Leaders

Australia -- Prime Minister -- James Scullin -- Till 6 January
Australia -- Prime Minister -- Joseph Lyons -- From 6 January
Brazil -- President -- Getúlio Vargas --
Canada -- Prime Minister -- Richard Bedford Bennett --
Italy -- Prime Minister -- Benito Mussolini --
Japan -- Prime Minister -- Tsuyoshi Inukai -- Till 16 May
Japan -- Prime Minister -- Makoto Saito -- From 26 May
Mexico -- President -- Abelardo L. Rodríguez -- From 4 September
Mexico -- President -- Pascual Ortiz Rubio -- Till 4 September
Russia / Soviet Union -- General Secretary of the Central Committee -- Joseph Stalin --
South Africa -- Prime Minister -- James Barry Munnik Hertzog --
United States -- President -- Herbert Hoover --
United Kingdom -- Prime Minister -- Ramsay MacDonald --

Political Elections

United States Presidential Election Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democratic) Defeats Herbert Hoover (Republican) and Norman Thomas (Socialist) --