A Sea Of Hats: Farm Foreclosure Sale

This image, one of two captioned “At Uncle Nick’s Auction,” shows a common sight around the rural USA during the 1930s. No, not just a crowd of fedoras and paperboy hats (although those were quite common, especially at the employment office or the bread lines). Farm foreclosures were driven by the Great Depression, a sluggish economy, a prewar slump due to foreign instability, and the ongoing change from a raw-materials economy to a manufacturing economy. This one appears to have been taken in 1938, after the “heyday” of foreclosures in the early 1930s. Early on, farmers protested and caused ‘penny auctions’ — friends and neighbors ran off genuine bidders, and never bid more than a penny for any lot. By the late 1930s the worst of it was over, some economic reforms were starting to help, and this auction was probably handled better than frantic bank-recoveries earlier in the decade.

Also: farmer’s diary * iowa depression * nebraska foreclosures * remembering farm life

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