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1930s facts for kids

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The 1930s (pronounced "nineteen-thirties" and commonly abbreviated as "the '30s" or "the Thirties") was a decade that began on January 1, 1930, and ended on December 31, 1939. In the United States, the Dust Bowl led to the nickname the "Dirty Thirties".

The decade was defined by a global economic and political crisis that culminated in the Second World War.


At the outbreak of World War II, both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland; by October 1939, they had divided the occupied territory between them in accordance with the secret part of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
  • Colombia–Peru War (September 1, 1932 – May 24, 1933) – fought between the Republic of Colombia and the Republic of Peru
  • Chaco War (June 15, 1932 – June 10, 1935) – fought between Bolivia and Paraguay over the disputed territory of Gran Chaco, resulting in a Paraguayan victory in 1935; an agreement dividing the territory was made in 1938, formally ending the conflict
  • Saudi–Yemeni War (March 1934 – May 12, 1934) – fought between Saudi Arabia and the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen
  • Second Italo-Ethiopian War (October 3, 1935 – February 19, 1937)
  • Second Sino-Japanese War (July 7, 1937 – September 9, 1945) – fought between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. It was the largest Asian war of the 20th century, and made up more than 50% of the casualties in the Pacific theater of World War II.
  • World War II (September 1, 1939 – September 2, 1945) – global war centered in Europe and the Pacific but involving the majority of the world's countries, including all of the major powers such as Germany, Russia, America, Italy, Japan, France and the United Kingdom.
Flag-map of the world (1938)
Flag map of the world from 1938, year before of the Second World War


In the United States the significantly high unemployment rate lead many unemployed people to use freight trains in order to seek employment in various cities across the country
  • The Great Depression is considered to have begun with the fall of stock prices on September 4, 1929, and then the stock market crash known as Black Tuesday on October 29, 1929, and lasted through much of the 1930s.
  • The entire decade is marked by widespread unemployment and poverty, although deflation (i.e. falling prices) was limited to 1930–32 and 1938–39. Prices fell 7.02% in 1930, 10.06% in 1931, 9.79% in 1932, 1.41% in 1938 and 0.71% in 1939.
  • Economic interventionist policies increase in popularity as a result of the Great Depression in both authoritarian and democratic countries. In the Western world, Keynesianism replaces classical economic theory.
  • In an effort to reduce unemployment, the United States government created work projects such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 to maintain National Parks and build roads. Other major U.S. government work projects included Hoover Dam which was constructed between 1931 and 1936.
  • Rapid industrialization takes place in the Soviet Union.
  • Prohibition in the United States ended in 1933. On December 5, 1933, the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • Drought conditions in Oklahoma and Texas caused the Dust Bowl which forced tens of thousands of families to abandon their farms and seek employment elsewhere.

Science and technology


Many technological advances occurred in the 1930s, including:

  • On March 8, 1930, the first frozen foods of Clarence Birdseye were sold in Springfield, Massachusetts, United States.
  • Nestlé releases the first white chocolate candy as the Milkybar.;
  • Ub Iwerks produced the first Color Sound Cartoon in 1930, a Flip the Frog cartoon entitled "Fiddlesticks";
  • In 1930, Warner Brothers released the first All-Talking All-Color wide-screen movie, Song of the Flame; in 1930 alone, Warner Brothers released ten All-Color All-Talking feature movies in Technicolor and scores of shorts and features with color sequences;
  • Air mail service across the Atlantic Ocean began;
  • Radar was invented, known as RDF (Radio Direction Finding), such as in British Patent GB593017 by Robert Watson-Watt in 1938;
  • In 1933, the 3M company marketed Scotch Tape;
  • In 1931, RCA Victor introduced the first long-playing phonograph record.
  • In 1935, the British London and North Eastern Railway introduced the A4 Pacific, designed by Nigel Gresley. Just three years later, one of these, No. 4468 Mallard, would become the fastest steam locomotive in the world.
  • In 1935, Kodachrome is invented, being the first color film made by Eastman Kodak.
  • In 1936, The first regular high-definition (then defined as at least 200 lines) television service from the BBC, based at Alexandra Palace in London, officially begins broadcasting.
  • Nuclear fission discovered by Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner and Fritz Strassman in 1939.
  • The Volkswagen Beetle, one of the best selling automobiles ever produced, had its roots in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. Created by Ferdinand Porsche and his chief designer Erwin Komenda. The car would prove to be successful, and is still in production today as the New Beetle.
  • In 1935, Howard Hughes, flying the H-1, set the landplane airspeed record of 352 mph (566 km/h).
  • In 1937, flying the same H-1 Racer fitted with longer wings, the ambitious Hughes sets a new transcontinental airspeed record by flying non-stop from Los Angeles to Newark in 7 hours, 28 minutes, and 25 seconds (beating his own previous record of 9 hours, 27 minutes). His average ground speed during the flight was 322 mph (518 km/h).
  • First intercontinental commercial airline flights.
  • The chocolate chip cookie is developed in 1938 by Ruth Graves Wakefield.
  • The Frying Pan becomes the first electric lap steel guitar ever produced.
  • Edwin Armstrong invents wide-band frequency modulation radio in 1933.
  • The bass guitar is invented by Paul Tutmarc of Seattle, Washington, in 1936.


Pluto in True Color - High-Res
The discovery of the dwarf planet Pluto
  • Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto in 1930, which goes on to be announced as the ninth planet in the Solar System.
  • Albert Einstein's equations form the basis for creation of the atomic bomb.

Popular culture

Literature and art

Best-selling books

The best-selling books of every year in the United States were as follows:


  • Charlie Chaplin's groundbreaking classic, "City Lights", was released in 1931.
  • Charlie Chaplin's last film featuring his signature character, "The Tramp", was subsequently released in 1936.
  • Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937.
  • The Little Princess was released in 1939.
  • The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939.
  • In the art of filmmaking, the Golden Age of Hollywood enters a new era after the advent of talking pictures ("talkies") in 1927 and full-color films in 1930: more than 50 classic films were made in the 1930s; most notable were Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz.
  • The new soundtrack and photographic technologies prompted many films to be made or re-made, such as the 1934 version of Cleopatra, using lush art deco sets, which won an Academy Award (see films 1930–1939 in Academy Award for Best Cinematography).
  • Universal Pictures begins producing its distinctive series of horror films, which came to be known as the Universal Monsters, featuring what would become iconic representations of literary and mythological monsters. The horror films (or monster movies) included many cult classics, such as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, King Kong, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and other films about wax museums, vampires, and zombies, leading to the 1941 film The Wolf Man. These films led to the stardom of stars such as Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr, and Boris Karloff.
  • Recurring series and serials included The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Tarzan, Charlie Chan and Our Gang.
  • In 1930, Howard Hughes produces Hell's Angels, the first movie blockbuster to be produced outside of a professional studio, independently, and at the time the most expensive movie ever made, costing roughly 4 million dollars and taking four years to make.

Highest-grossing films

Year Title Worldwide gross Budget Reference(s)
1930 All Quiet on the Western Front &&&&&&&&03000000.&&&&&03,000,000 &&&&&&&&01250000.&&&&&01,250,000
1931 Frankenstein &&&&&&&012000000.&&&&&012,000,000 (&&&&&&&&01400000.&&&&&01,400,000) &&&&&&&&&0250000.&&&&&0250,000
City Lights &&&&&&&&05000000.&&&&&05,000,000 &&&&&&&&01607351.&&&&&01,607,351
1932 The Sign of the Cross &&&&&&&&02738993.&&&&&02,738,993 &&&&&&&&&0694065.&&&&&0694,065
1933 King Kong &&&&&&&&05347000.&&&&&05,347,000 (&&&&&&&&01856000.&&&&&01,856,000) 0Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ","..Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character ",".672,255.75
I'm No Angel &&&&&&&&03250000.&&&&&03,250,000+ &&&&&&&&&0200000.&&&&&0200,000
Cavalcade &&&&&&&&03000000.&&&&&03,000,000–&&&&&&&&04000000.&&&&&04,000,000 &&&&&&&&01116000.&&&&&01,116,000
She Done Him Wrong &&&&&&&&03000000.&&&&&03,000,000+ &&&&&&&&&0274076.&&&&&0274,076
1934 The Merry Widow &&&&&&&&02608000.&&&&&02,608,000 &&&&&&&&01605000.&&&&&01,605,000
It Happened One Night &&&&&&&&02500000.&&&&&02,500,000 &&&&&&&&&0325000.&&&&&0325,000
1935 Mutiny on the Bounty &&&&&&&&04460000.&&&&&04,460,000 &&&&&&&&01905000.&&&&&01,905,000
1936 San Francisco &&&&&&&&06044000.&&&&&06,044,000+ (&&&&&&&&05273000.&&&&&05,273,000) &&&&&&&&01300000.&&&&&01,300,000
1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs &&&&&&0418000000.&&&&&0418,000,000+ (&&&&&&&&08500000.&&&&&08,500,000) &&&&&&&&01488423.&&&&&01,488,423
1938 You Can't Take It With You &&&&&&&&05000000.&&&&&05,000,000 &&&&&&&&01200000.&&&&&01,200,000
1939 Gone with the Wind &&&&&&0390525192.&&&&&0390,525,192–&&&&&&0402352579.&&&&&0402,352,579




On October 30, 1938 Orson Welles' radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds is broadcast, causing panic in various parts of the United States
  • Radio becomes dominant mass media in industrial nations, serving as a way for citizens to listen to music and get news- providing rapid reporting on current events.
  • October 30, 1938 – Orson Welles' radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds is broadcast, causing panic in various parts of the United States.


The most popular music of each year was as follows:


The most characteristic North American fashion trend from the 1930s to 1945 was attention at the shoulder, with butterfly sleeves and banjo sleeves, and exaggerated shoulder pads for both men and women by the 1940s. The period also saw the first widespread use of man-made fibers, especially rayon for dresses and viscose for linings and lingerie, and synthetic nylon stockings. The zipper became widely used. These essentially U.S. developments were echoed, in varying degrees, in Britain and Europe. Suntans (called at the time "sunburns") became fashionable in the early 1930s, along with travel to the resorts along the Mediterranean, in the Bahamas, and on the east coast of Florida where one can acquire a tan, leading to new categories of clothes: white dinner jackets for men and beach pajamas, halter tops, and bare midriffs for women.

Revolutionary designer and couturier Madeleine Vionnet gained popularity for her bias-cut technique, which clung, draped, and embraced the curves of the natural female body. Fashion trendsetters in the period included The Prince of Wales (King Edward VIII from January 1936 until his abdication that December) and his companion Wallis Simpson (the Duke and Duchess of Windsor from their marriage in June 1937), socialites like Nicolas de Gunzburg, Daisy Fellowes and Mona von Bismarck, and Hollywood movie stars such as Fred Astaire, Carole Lombard, and Joan Crawford.

Typical fashions in the 1930s:


Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock
The Empire State Building became the world's tallest building when completed in 1931

Visual arts

Social realism became an important art movement during the Great Depression in the United States in the 1930s. Social realism generally portrayed imagery with socio-political meaning. Other related American artistic movements of the 1930s were American scene painting and Regionalism which were generally depictions of rural America, and historical images drawn from American history. Precisionism with its depictions of industrial America was also a popular art movement during the 1930s in the USA. During the Great Depression the art of photography played an important role in the Social Realist movement. The work of Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke-White, Lewis Hine, Edward Steichen, Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein, Marion Post Wolcott, Doris Ulmann, Berenice Abbott, Aaron Siskind, Russell Lee, Ben Shahn (as a photographer) among several others were particularly influential.

The Works Progress Administration part of the Roosevelt Administration's New Deal sponsored the Federal Art Project, the Public Works of Art Project, and the Section of Painting and Sculpture which employed many American artists and helped them to make a living during the Great Depression.

Mexican muralism was a Mexican art movement that took place primarily in the 1930s. The movement stands out historically because of its political undertones, the majority of which of a Marxist nature, or related to a social and political situation of post-revolutionary Mexico. Also in Latin America Symbolism and Magic Realism were important movements.

In Europe during the 1930s and the Great Depression, Surrealism, late Cubism, the Bauhaus, De Stijl, Dada, German Expressionism, Symbolist and modernist painting in various guises characterized the art scene in Paris and elsewhere.




Walt Disney Snow white 1937 trailer screenshot (13)
Walt Disney introduces each of the Seven Dwarfs in a scene from the original 1937 Snow White


Influential artists

Painters and sculptors


Dorothea Lange atop automobile in California (restored) (cropped)

Sports figures

Jack Crawford c 1930s
Jack Craword, Australian World number 1 tennis player


  • Cliff Bastin (English footballer)
  • Donald Bradman (Australian cricketer)
  • Haydn Bunton, Sr (Australian Rules footballer)
  • Jack Crawford (tennis)
  • Jack Dyer (Australian rules football player)
  • Wally Hammond (English cricketer)
  • Eddie Hapgood (English footballer)
  • George Headley (West Indies cricketer)
  • Alex James (Scottish footballer)
  • Douglas Jardine (English cricketer)
  • Harold Larwood (English cricketer)
  • Jack Lovelock (New Zealand runner)
  • Fred Perry (English tennis player)
  • Leonard Hutton, English cricketer
  • Percy Williams (sprinter)
  • Dhyan Chand, Indian hockey player
  • Lala Amarnath, Indian cricketer

United States


Prominent criminals of the Great Depression:

  • Al Capone
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • John Dillinger
  • Baby Face Nelson
  • Machine Gun Kelly
  • Ma Barker

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Años 1930 para niños


The following articles contain brief timelines which list the most prominent events of the decade:

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