Hard Times in Illinois, 1930–1940
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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August 15, 1931


When one thinks of the Great Depression images of unemployed workers standing in soup kitchen lines and of dirt poor farmers plagued by drought come to mind and those images are valid. But the middle and upper-middle classes were affected as well as this letter from a Chicago law firm partner with offices on South LaSalle Street and a home in Evanston demonstrates.

Oscar Nelson was the elected auditor of public accounts and his office oversaw the state's banking industry. By this date large numbers of credit establishments from across the state had failed and were in receivership under Auditor Nelson. Governor Emmerson in a cordial letter dated August 21 wrote that there was no way in which he could be of assistance.

Points to Consider

What was Benjamin Wham asking Governor Emmerson to do?

Who was David E. Shanahan and what was he doing in 1931?

Who was Oscar Nelson?

What was a bank receiver and why did Benjamin Wham want to be one?

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