In the 1930s mass unemployment followed a period of economic breakdown that produced “distress and confusion in the daily lives of millions of people,” wrote Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, “and produced contradiction and confusion in the posture of elites.” The depression saw the rise and fall of the largest number of unemployed ever and gave rise to a relief system that has been under fire by conservatives and liberals alike. Images like the soup line below prompted people to act. Photographers served as documentary propagandists. But graphic designers got into the swing with cautionary missives like the green stamps below.
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