At a Century of Progress: 1920-1950

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Explore Illinois from 1920 to 1950 and meet the people who lived here.

The Century of Progress Exposition held in Chicago in 1933 and 1934 celebrated scientific and technical advances that led to improved living conditions. Automobiles and electricity were greatly changing the lives of most people in Illinois. This was also an era of hardship. The Great Depression of the 1930s caused widespread unemployment and left many people homeless and penniless. Farmers suffered heavy crop losses due to droughts. Coal miners were torn between rival labor organizations. In the 1940s, World War II created shortages requiring the rationing of foodstuffs and gasoline. Industrial output was channeled toward military uses. The development and use of the atomic bomb with its resulting massive death and destruction led people to question the progress recently achieved.

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© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96