MARY BRASWELL: Looking back at the Great Depression winter of 1934.

News from 70 years ago as south Georgia and all of America suffered through the Great Depression.

Mary Braswell

Mary Braswell

The Civil Works Administration (CWA) was established in October 1933. Early in 1934, Congress authorized $950 million for the continued operation of the C.W.A. Expected to employ up to 4 million people, the C.W.A. was involved in the building of bridges, schools, hospitals, airports, parks and playgrounds as well as the repair and construction of highways and roads. More than 11.3 million previously employed Americans were without work. Here is a look back at how Albany and surrounding areas fared through that winter, 70 years ago.

—For the first time in a number of years, Dougherty County started the new year with all obligations paid. The county also managed to wipe out a $26,000 deficit carried over from the previous year.

— Georgia’s General Assembly failed to act on a new vehicle tax schedule in the previous season so , regardless of size and weight, all vehicles in Georgia continued paying a $3 tax for the new year.

— A blanket of federal insurance (FDIC) went into effect on all bank deposits up to $2,500. The move was in hopes of renewing the confidence of citizens therefore strengthening the overall economy.

— The January clearance sale at Rosenberg Brothers included all-wool men’s overcoats for $13.95.

— Dougherty County law enforcement captured two escaped prisoners in one night. J.D. Buie was an escapee from the Baker County chain gang and B.H. Watkins, a local chain gang fugitive.

— In a 45-day campaign to rid Albany and Dougherty County of rats, several tons of poison was spread and 1,776 traps were set. The rodents were responsible for typhus fever and crop damage. The campaign also provided men with work through the CWA. It was not unusual for a bushel basket to be filled with dead brown Norwegian rats, especially near old outhouses. This work was also carried out in neighboring counties.

Albany’s airport was allotted $28,230 through the CWA for improvements.

— The city ordinance requiring all dogs within the city of Albany be inoculated against rabies, the suspected and confirmed cases of the dreaded disease fell rapidly. For the years 1931, 1932 and 1933, no cases of rabies were found in the city. Dogs impounded without a license were mostly reclaimed by owners and inoculated. Others were electrocuted.

— The Water Light and Gas Commission of the city of Albany announced a reduction in rates for electricity. This was the second drop in rates since 1929.

— The Albany Chamber of Commerce maintained a list of furnished houses and apartments for rent as a means of assisting newcomers to the city.

Georgia’s quota of 80,000 CWA jobs was filled before mid-January. It was not expected that any additional jobs would be available except in the case where a man quit or was unable to do an assigned task.

— As initiatives under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal gathered steam, the U.S. Children’s Bureau reported that the number of badly nourished children was greater than realized. Relief doles in some parts of the country were as low as $1.50 for an entire family for a month and had been the case for several years in some families.

— A few new tags were seen around town on cars and trucks. The tags were orange on a blue background.

— Farm loans were available to Dougherty, Lee, Baker, Worth, Mitchell, Calhoun and Early counties. The loans were made upward from $50 with a $75 -per-plow maximum to farmers who could offer no security other than prospective crops.Where additional collateral, such as mules, was available, the limit went as high as $125 -per-plow. All loans carried a six-percent interest.

— Work began on the Commodore Decatur Airport project in Bainbridge. The labor included clearing the land, grubbing, surfacing, sodding, fencing, grading and marking the field. The expenditure of $34,035 included paying 245 CWA workers for seven weeks but did not included paving of the runways, lighting or any construction of buildings.

— Plans were underway in every state and at least 5,000 communities to hold a ball on January 30 in honor of President Roosevelt’s 52nd birthday. Albany’s event was to be held at Radium Springs and supported by local civic groups. All proceeds nationwide were earmarked for a permanent endowment fund for the work done at Warm Springs.

— Mayor R.F. Armstrong requested the help of parents to keep children from skating on public streets. Armstrong, aware that many children skate to school, asked parents to remind children, that for their own safety, to skate only on sidewalks.

— The education report from the CWA stated that more than 850 Georgia teachers were being paid with relief funds, mostly in the rural areas of the state.

— In areas of Georgia with a population under 2,500, the hours of CWA workers was cut in half. The new arrangement would allow for more men to be employed but for 15 hours a week each rather than 30 hours. Wages for all CWA workers was 30 cents per hour.

— The Birth Control and National Recovery Conference enjoyed the backing of some 500 physicians’ endorsements of pending birth control bills. In part, the new legislation would allow physicians to distribute information regarding birth control. Some in attendance believed that states should consider the use of sterilization of the “unfit.”

— Paving work began on the 8.636-mile stretch of the Sylvester-Cordele Highway. All work was to be done by CWA workers.

— Clay County secured funds from the CWA to fund three new school teachers. Some of the black schools had as many as 100 students in a classroom.


a) $327, 455 was the 1934 budget approved by the Albany City Commission in January of that year.