Mississippi and the Great Depression

Richelle Putnam (Author) Diane Williams (Foreword by)


Join author Richelle Putnam as she recounts how Mississippian's resolve and fortitude brought the state through one of the hardest economic times in American history.

When the Great Depression erupted, Mississippi had not yet recovered from the boll weevil or the Flood of 1927. Its land suffered from depleted forests and soil. Plus, the state had yet to confront the racial caste systems imprisoning poor whites, African Americans and other minorities. Nevertheless, innovative Mississippians managed to keep their businesses and services open. Meanwhile, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs fostered economic stimulation within the state. Author Richelle Putnam also highlights the state's spiritual and cultural giants, who rose from the nation's poorest state to create a lasting footprint of determination, pride and hope during the Depression era.

Product Details

$21.99  $20.23
History Press
Publish Date
November 13, 2017
5.9 X 0.6 X 8.9 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author

Richelle Putnam is a Mississippi Arts Commission Teaching Artist/Roster Artist, a Mississippi Humanities Speaker and a 2014 MAC Literary Arts Fellowship recipient. Her YA biography, The Inspiring Life of Eudora Welty (The History Press, 2014), received the 2014 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards Silver Medal. Putnam is also the author of Lauderdale County, Mississippi; a Brief History (The History Press, 2011) and coauthor of Legendary Locals of Meridian, Mississippi (Arcadia Publishing, 2013). The Mississippi Secretary of State's office commissioned Richelle to write the history on the nine counties for the 2017 Mississippi bicentennial anniversary. Her literary work has been published in Pif magazine, the Copperfield Review, Birmingham Arts Journal and several bestselling anthologies. Her freelance articles can be found in Town & Gown magazine, Mississippi magazine, eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI, Parents & Kids, Well Being, Portico and Social South.
Diane Williams is an oral historian, performance artist and storyteller living in Mississippi. She is the director of grants for the Mississippi Arts Commission, board member of the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Educators and member of the Mississippi Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. She has presented at numerous Mississippi museums and writers' festivals in addition to acting as an enrichment instructor at Millsaps College and Jackson State University.


"Anyone with even a passing interest in Mississippi history will find Richelle Putnam's "Mississippi and the Great Depression" (The History Press) enthralling.

If one's passion is Mississippiana, "Depression" deserves a prominent space on the bookshelf. Ruminations about the Depression by aged relatives and oft-repeated family lore does little to dispel the fact that if times were tough nationally, then it was especially grim in the poorest state in the nation." Clarion Ledger
In this worthy illustrated history, Putnam (The Inspiring Life of Eudora Welty) narrates the hardscrabble Great Depression years in Mississippi, beginning with the Great Flood of 1927 and ending with WWII, accompanied by a trove of photographs recording daily life and special events. As Putnam recounts, the white, black, Choctaw, and Chinese people who lived in the Deep Southern state experienced significant hardship on top of pre-existing natural disasters (such as flooding, multiyear droughts) and manmade crises (extensive deforestation). She excerpts the pleading letters Mississippians of all economic classes wrote to their congressman, William H. Colmer, about the extreme lack of education and jobs. Putnam shows that the state proved ripe for Roosevelt's then-controversial New Deal programs; the Tennessee Valley Authority, Civilian Conservation Corps, and National Industrial Recovery Association kept residents from starving. The photos reveal not only deprivation but also a rich culture influenced by the state's Great Depression-era writers Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and Walker Percy and legendary musician Robert Johnson. Ideal for readers fascinated by the idea of the New South, Putnam's spare account of a difficult era provides insight into modern Mississippi's struggle to overcome an impoverished past with grit and a remarkable cultural legacy. Publishers Weekly
"Mississippi and the Great Depression, authored by Meridian resident Richelle Putnam and published by The History Press (Charleston, S.C.) was awarded the bronze medal in the Regional Non-Fiction Category." Meridian Star
"Blending facts with personal narratives, stories of notables and historical photographs, Putnam succeeds in presenting a truthful, inclusive portrait of Mississippi during the Great Depression. She considers the Depression's impact on most every aspect of Mississippi life, from employment, housing and health to politics, religion and art. " Today in Mississippi