If most Spanish immigrants arrived to the US in the first decades of the twentieth century, it stands to reason that many of them were in the midst of trying to raise a family when the Great Depression hit in 1929. It’s hard to imagine how they managed in pre-New Deal America: with no social security, no medical insurance, no unemployment insurance, no safety net like the one we sometimes take for granted nowadays.
Part of the answer, in Spanish communities all over the country, from Bridgeport, CT to Winters, California, is quite simple: solidarity. Either through organized benevolent or mutual aid societies, or through ad hoc fundraising drives, or through a combination of both, when things got tough, Spanish immigrants “had each others’ backs.”
For example, I have in front of me a newspaper article from La Prensa of NY (April 16, 1925), that lists the names of more than 100 people who donated anywhere from 25 cents to 10 dollars to help the young Clemente Hernández García return to his native Nava del Barco, Avila, after he had contracted tuberculosis. There are contributions from Donora, Homestead and McKeesport, Pennsylvania, as well as from Canton Ohio.
(Photo courtesy of Andy González, Monterey California).