The People History

What Happened in 1934 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture

1933 Major News Stories including rise of fascists and dictators including Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, drought including Oklahoma temperatures leaves 35 million acres of farmland in the US destroyed, Jones-Connally Farm-Relief Act signed into law, FBI ends the careers of John Dillinger , Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson.

1934 saw the turning point in the great depression in America with unemployment decreasing to 22% . But in other parts of the world some of the political changes occurring would cause the next world war , in Germany Adolf Hitler declared himself the fuhrer ( ultimate ruler ) , in Russia Stalin began his massacres and in China Mao Tse-Tung spread the communist doctrine. The further weather drought problems in the US Midwest continued and some 35 million acres of farmland were utterly destroyed and a further 225 million acres were in danger. The president set up public works around the US including bridges, roads and flood control Dams in an attempt to put America back on it's feet. The FBI had considerable success ending the careers with celebrity criminals and John Dillinger , Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson.
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Cost of Living 1934

How Much things cost in 1934
Average Cost of new house $5,970.00 Average wages per year $1,600.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 10 cents
Average Cost for house rent $20.00 per month
A loaf of Bread 8 cents
A LB of Hamburger Meat 12 cents
Studebaker Truck $625.00
Arrow Men's Shirt $2.50
White Potatoes 19 cents for 10LBs
Heinz Beans 13 cents for 25oz can
Spring Chickens 20 cents per pound
Wieners 8 cents per pound
Best Steak 22 cents per pound
Below are some Prices for UK guides in Pounds Sterling
Average House Price 515
Currency Exchange $5.00 to the Pound Sterling

World --- Political Extremism

  • 1934 was arguably one of the worst years of the Great Depression as the world's economy hit rock bottom. As the situation seemed hopeless, more and more people turned to whoever promised them a better life. At this time in history, the rising leaders used peoples' fears and prejudices to rally support and create a scapegoat for the world's problems.
More Information and Timeline for Political Extremism
1. A result of this was that many nations around the world fell into extremist political views with Fascism, Nazism, and extreme Communism dominating the political landscape, often to a detrimental effect.
2. Many dictators surfaced around the world, especially in parts of Europe, South America and Asia.
3. The Soviet Union and Stalin
a. In the Soviet Union, Josef Stalin had come to power in the previous decade.
b. He solidified his control of the country as he began the "Great Purge".
c. This was a period of time during which he gained absolute control through heavy repression of the populace.
d. He also conducted random executions and imprisoned many Communist party and government officials, along with anyone who showed signs of political disagreement.
4. In Germany, the country turned to Nazi extremism with the election of Adolf Hitler in 1933.
a. By 1934, he had declared himself "fuhrer" and absolute leader of the country.
b. Hitler directed aggression at the Jewish population and through radical propaganda he was able to spread his ideas of strong nationalism and racial superiority to the German people.
c. Through carefully planned law-making he was able to begin a program of increasingly repressive conditions for Jewish citizens and others deemed "undesirable" that would lead to the death of millions of people during the Holocaust.
d. Hitler propelled his ideas with fear and repression to those who resisted and awarded those who fell in line, leaving a large portion of the population complicit in his crimes against humanity.
e. He would slowly continue to gain power and push bounds until he started invading parts of Europe in the late 1930s, leading to the outbreak of World War II.
5. Several countries in South and Central America fell to Communist and Fascist dictators starting in the 1930s.
a. Getulio Vargas, the dictator of Brazil, turned the country into a near Fascist police state with a new and repressive constitution.
b. Countries that dealt with issues of war such as Bolivia also fell into military control and were lead by dictators.
6. The consequence of these regimes was a second World War, several civil wars, the Cold War, continually stagnant economies, repressive and fearful living conditions, and the deaths of millions of people worldwide.

United States --- John Dillinger

  • John Herbert Dillinger ( Public Enemy Number 1 ) bank robber dies after a shoot out on July 22 with the FBI outside the Biograph theatre in Chicago
More Information and Timeline for the John Dillinger Crime Spree
1. John Dillinger and Ed Singleton attempt to rob a grocer in Mooresville, Indiana but are caught. Dillinger is convicted and sentenced to up to twenty years in state prison in 1924.
2. Dillinger is released from prison on parole after serving eight and half years. After his release he robs a bank in Ohio and is arrested in September of 1933.
3. A few days after Dillinger is arrested, eight of his friends escaped from the Indiana State Prison and four of his associates broke him out of jail.
4. After breaking out of prison he and his gang of criminals robbed several banks and raided several Indiana police arsenals.
5. Dillinger and his gang continued to rob banks in the Chicago area, killing several police officers as they went. They then traveled to Florida and then Arizona.
6. He was arrested in Tucson, Arizona in January and then jailed in Crown Point, Indiana. He broke out of that prison in March. He stole the sheriff's vehicle and drove it across state lines, an action that would force the FBI to become more involved in his case.
7. He made his way to Chicago and then to St. Paul to meet with his girlfriend and another gang of criminals with whom he robbed more banks.
8. The FBI tracked him to St. Paul but Dillinger was able to flee back to Mooresville, Indiana where he stayed with his father.
9. He then continued to travel around the Midwest, robbing with various criminal associates, including Baby Face Nelson.
10. The FBI closed in on him near Rhinelander, Wisconsin and after a stand-off, Dillinger was able to escape again.
11. After that incident, J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI, assigned agent Samuel Cowley as the head of the investigation on Dillinger.
12. In July , the FBI received a tip about Dillinger's whereabouts from a madame at a Gary, Indiana brothel. This tip would lead to FBI to him on July 22nd, .
13. The FBI ambushed Dillinger outside of the Biograph theater near Chicago, Illinois on July 22nd. He tried to run and shoot at the agents but was shot three times and killed.

United States --- Bonnie and Clyde

  • Near their hide-out in Black Lake, Louisiana, FBI men ambush bank robbers on May 23rd Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow and fire, killing them.
More Information and Timeline for the Bonnie and Clyde Manhunt
1. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow meet in 1930.
2. Bureau of Investigation becomes interested in the duo in 1932 after they are traced to an abandoned stolen car in Michigan.
3. In 1933, a warrant for their arrest was issued by the US Commissioner in Dallas, Texas. They were wanted for transporting a stolen car from Dallas to Oklahoma.
4. Law enforcement attempted to trap them near Grand Prairie. TX in November of 1933 but they escaped.
5. Throughout 1932 and 1933 they traveled around committing robberies, thefts and murders, at first with three other companions who were later captured or killed by police.
6. In January , Clyde Barrow, with the help of Bonnie Parker, freed prisoners at the Eastham State Prison Farm by attacking the guards.
7. FBI Agents gathered evidence against them and followed their trail throughout several states, especially Louisiana.
8. Police from Texas and Louisiana track them down in May and ambush them near Sailes, Louisiana on May 23rd, opening fire on them. They were killed right away.

United States --- Slum Clearance New York

  • Inner City Slum Clearance begin in New York and other major US Cities
More Information and Timeline for Slum Clearance and Public Housing
1. The United States enters the Great Depression in the early 1930's. Hundreds of thousands of Americans lose their homes and have no other option than to live in slums with substandard living conditions.
2. In 1933, the newly elected Franklin D. Roosevelt pledges to bring about the recovery through government intervention (The New Deal), including the development of public housing.
3. The National Public Housing Conference decides to promote slum clearance and the construction of new permanent housing in 1933, that same year the US Congress passes the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) in June.
4. NIRA allowed the creation of the Public Works Administration (PWA). Much of the work done to promote slum clearance and the creation of public housing was done by Senator Robert F. Wagner from the state of New York.
5. The National Housing Act of this year created the United States Housing Authority to help fulfill the goals of the PWA.
6. The PWA was primarily interested in slum clearance first and then the creation of public housing, however, legal hurdles eventually got in the way of that goal. With the federal district court case of United States v. Certain Lands in the City of Louisville, it was ruled that the US government did not have the power to condemn and destroy properties in any state in 1935, and from that point on the PWA worked with state housing authorities to accomplish their goals legally.
7. By 1937, there was a more serious push for the federal government to commit to public housing and slum clearance and in November of that year the Housing Act of 1937 (Wagner-Steagall Act) was passed with the goal of providing low-rent housing of a better quality to the poor in Urban areas.
8. Overall, these programs did succeed in tearing down some slums in American cities and laid a foundation for the creation of affordable public housing, however there were also several problems with these programs.
9. One of the largest problems with this was that the new public housing that was being built to replace slums was not actually meant to help those who had been living in the slums, but for the working poor and others who would have been considered middle class if not for the Great Depression. This meant that a large portion of those who were displaced did not end up in a better living situation. In fact, they would often have to move into worse living conditions that were more expensive than before.
10. Another criticism of these programs was that the creation of public housing projects would get rid of thousands of tax-paying individual property owning households and replace them with one large tax-exempt piece of public property that would prove to be a larger drain on city services.
11. Some other issues related to slum clearance were that many displaced families did not even qualify for or were not able to afford the new public housing options, land owners were not fairly compensated for their properties, and the fact the public housing would negatively impact already struggling private real estate markets.
12. Despite the abundance of negative consequences of these programs, there were some positives, too. The work of clearing slums and building new homes created work for many, as the building industry had been stagnant during the Great Depression.
13. It was also successful in improving the general living conditions of many. A good portion of the slum properties that were taken down had no inside toilets, no hot water, no bathtubs or showers, and nearly all of the dwellings had no central heat. All of these problems would be solved with the building of new houses.
14. These programs would also improve the health and safety conditions as well as modernizing large areas of US cities.
15. Overall, there were both good and bad results that came about from the US government's commitment to the clearing of slums and creation of public housing. It is important to note that deeper issues also contributed to the successes and failures of these programs including issues of race, class, and public welfare programs. There are also arguments that can be made on either side reflecting the government's responsibility to help those in need or their right to meddle in private affairs.
16. An interesting statistic taken from the book, "From the Puritans to the Projects" by Lawrence J. Vale in regards to public housing affordability during the New Deal (with a focus on the city of Boston):
a. The average monthly rent for a slum dweller before the housing projects in Boston was $15.88.
b. The average monthly rent for an apartment created by the Boston Housing Authority that replaced a slum was $23.00.

Japan --- Japanese Rearmament

  • Japan renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930
More Information and Timeline for Japan Rearmament
On December 19th, the Japanese government announced it would no longer be honoring its agreements in the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930. This meant that Japan would not adhere to warship tonnage ratios meant to keep the world’s largest navies in check and would not be taking part in any further disarmament efforts. The move was made in order for Japan to grow its navy as it entered into conflicts in the Pacific and the country began an aggressive military expansion campaign prior to World War II.

United States - It Happened One Night

The classic American film “It Happened One Night” was released during February. The film, a romantic comedy, was released just a few months prior to the implementation of the Motion Picture Production Code which monitored and restricted the content of films until 1968. It starred Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable and was directed by Frank Capra. The film initially had a lukewarm reception but quickly grew in popularity, becoming a beloved success. It was the first film to win all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, Best Actress and Best Actor). The Library of Congress selected it for preservation in 1993 due to its cultural significance.


1934 Year In History Print

United States --- Charles Lindbergh baby kidnapping

  • Charles Lindbergh baby kidnapper "Bruno Hauptmann" arrested and charged with kidnapping and murder
More Information and Timeline for the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping
1. Twenty month old Charles Lindbergh Jr., child of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, was taken from the Lindbergh home in Hopewell, New Jersey on March 1st, 1932. A note was left demanding a $50,000 ransom.
2. Several meetings to deliver the ransom money to the kidnapper are attempted but law enforcement agents were still unable to track down the kidnapper.
3. On May 12th, 1932 the body of Lindbergh's son was found and it was discovered that he had been likely killed on the night of the kidnapping. The case was then turned into a murder investigation.
4. Investigators tracked bills given in the ransom money for two years and their investigation eventually lead them to capture and arrest Richard Hauptmann on September 19th, .
5. Hauptmann went on trial in 1935 and was found guilty of the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr.
6. Hauptmann was executed for his crime in April of 1936.

United States - Donald Duck Introduced

The cartoon character Donald Duck makes his first appearance during June in Disney’s “The Wise Little Hen” short film. The character, an anthropomorphized white duck, is known for his quick temper, mischievous pranks, and blue sailor outfit. In his first appearance, his look and personality had not been developed but over the next few years he transformed into the comedic foil for Disney’s star character Mickey Mouse and grew in popularity. Donald Duck is also known for his distinctive voice which was created by actor Clarence Nash, who voiced the character until his death in 1985. The voice, which is only semi-intelligible, is created by forcing air through the inner cheek instead of using the larynx like in typical speech.


The Philippines - Tydings-McDuffie Act

The Tydings-McDuffie Act, also known as the Philippine Independence Act, was enacted during March. The law established the Commonwealth of the Philippines and created a framework for full independence from the United States within a ten-year transitional period. Under the law, the Philippines would remain a US territory for 10 years but would be required to hold a constitutional convention, create A new constitution, and directly elect a president. It would be given autonomy to govern all internal issues while the US would still control foreign policy, defense, and finance. The Philippines became fully independent in 1946.


Australia --- MacRobertson Air Race

  • The MacRobertson Air Race begins on October 20th
More Information for the MacRobertson Air Race
The MacRobertson Air Race began on October 20th, . The air race was held as a way to commemorate the centenary of Melbourne and Australia’s Victoria state. It was sponsored by MacRobertson’s Confectionary, who gave $75,000.00 towards a prize fund, only asking for the race to be as safe as possible. There were total of twenty participants that joined the race from England to Australia. The race was to be monitored by the Royal Aero Club of England and there were no rules to limit the size or power of participating aircrafts and very few rules governing the race. The planes would have to stop at five mandatory stops along the 11,300 mile route and adhere to some basic safety rules. C.W.A. Scott and T. Campbell Black won the speed portion of the air race.

Scotland --- Loch Ness Monster

  • The Loch Ness Monster is spotted on January 14th for the first time
  • The famous "surgeon's photograph" of the Loch Ness Monster or "Nessie"
More Information and Timeline for the Loch Ness Monster
1. 565 Saint Columba The earliest report of a monster in the vicinity of Loch Ness appears in the Life of St. Columba by Adomnán, written in the seventh century AD
2. 1933 Sightings of the monster increased after a road was built along the loch bringing workers and tourists to the formerly-isolated area
3. 1933 George Spicer and his wife saw "a most extraordinary form of animal" cross the road in front of their car They described the creature as having a large body about 4 feet high and 25 feet long and a long, wavy, narrow neck, slightly thicker than an elephant's trunk and as long as the 10–12-foot width of the road
4. 1933 Hugh Gray was walking along the loch after church when he reportedly saw a large creature rising from the lake. Gray took several pictures, but only one was successfully developed. The blurry image appeared to show a creature with a long tail and thick body on the surface of the loch.
5. 1934 April 21st "surgeon's photograph" "Robert Kenneth Wilson, a London gynecologist" is published in the Daily Mail
The photo is shown below , by the 1990's using modern technology the photo was believed to be an elaborate hoax but is still considered by many as the best proof that Nessie does exist.

Calendar For The Year 1934

1934 Calendar


"The Rock" opens
  • Alcatraz federal penitentiary known as "The Rock" opens

general strike
  • The First Ever general strike in the US

World Cup
  • Italy wins the World Cup in Italy defeating Czechoslovakia

Oswald Mosley
  • Sir Oswald Mosley and Black-Shirt fascist followers are put on Trial following mass brawling at a political rally

Jones-Connally Farm-Relief Act
  • Congress pass the Jones-Connally Farm-Relief Act to help Struggling Farmers

Securities Exchange Act
  • Securities Exchange Act passed establishing Securities Exchange Commission (SEC)

League of nations
  • The USSR joins the League of nations

  • Following the depression worldwide dictatorships are established in Brazil and Bolivia

ravaging drought
  • Oklahoma experienced a ravaging drought with temperatures reaching 117 degrees in the summer After 2 years of near drought conditions causing further crop failure and many farms going bankrupt with more land turning from fertile soil to a dust bowl

Adolf Hitler declares himself the fuhrer
  • Adolf Hitler declares himself the fuhrer Of Germany after becoming President and Chancellor August 2nd

Popular Culture

  • Donald Duck appears for the first time in "The Wise Little Hen" June 9th
  • The Film Stand Up and Cheer, with five-year-old Shirley Temple in a relatively minor role. but she steals the show and a star is born ,later in the year she goes on to sing " The Good Ship Lollipop in the film Bright Eyes
  • Cole Porter continues to have a string of musical hits


Born This Year

Brian Epstein September 19th
Sophia Loren September 20th
Peter Arnett November 13th
Yuri Gagarin March 9th
Hank Aaron February 5th -- Mobile, Alabama U.S.
Giorgio Armani July 11th -- Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Tom Baker January 20th -- Liverpool, England
Brigitte Bardot September 28th -- Paris, France
Pat Boone June 1st -- Jacksonville, Florida, USA
Barry Humphries February 17th -- Kew, Melbourne, Australia
Roy Kinnear January 8th -- Wigan, Lancashire, England, UK
Charles Manson November 12th -- Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Bill Moyers June 6th -- Hugo, Oklahoma, United States
Ralph Nader February 27th -- Winsted, Connecticut United States
Maggie Smith December 28th -- Ilford, Essex, England, UK


  • The Sikorsky S-42 was the first real transoceanic flying boat and had it's maiden flight
  • The Flying Scotsman becomes the first steam locomotive to be officially recorded at 100 mph.
  • The Luxury Liner Queen Mary is launched in Scotland

Inventions Invented by Inventors and Country ( or attributed to First Use )
Catseyes England by Percy Shaw - for lighting roads
Trampoline George Nissen and Larry Griswold

Major World Political Leaders

Australia -- Prime Minister -- Joseph Lyons --
Brazil -- President -- Getúlio Vargas --
Canada -- Prime Minister -- Richard Bedford Bennett --
Germany -- Chancellor -- Adolf Hitler --
Italy -- Prime Minister -- Benito Mussolini --
Japan -- Prime Minister -- Makoto Saito -- Till 8 July
Japan -- Prime Minister -- Keisuke Okada -- From 8 July
Mexico -- President -- Abelardo L. Rodríguez -- Till 30 November
Mexico -- President -- Lázaro Cárdenas -- From 1 December
Russia / Soviet Union -- General Secretary of the Central Committee -- Joseph Stalin --
South Africa -- Prime Minister -- James Barry Munnik Hertzog --
United States -- President -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --
United Kingdom -- Prime Minister -- Ramsay MacDonald --