The setting of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is Mississippi in 1933. This was during the worst Depression of the 20th century. The Depression affected everyone in the United States as well as the rest of the world. There were many people out of work and money was very scarce. Below are some grocery items and prices from August 1933, from an ad for the A & P grocery store in Bellevue, Ohio. Using online grocery sites that are provided, look up the prices of the items on the list and type them in the column on this spreadsheet. Pay careful attention to the quantity of each item (ex: $3.29 per 2 bars). You must be sure that the type of item matches the type of item in the original 1933 grocery list. The difference for each item will calculate automatically.

rollofthunder.jpg Book image from of_Thunder,_Hear_My_Cry

external image ms009483.jpg
external image ms009483.jpg
Spreadsheet - Download this spreadsheet and research prices of the items on the list.

Online Grocery Sites

Peapod - enter your zip code to get into the site and search for an item
Groceries Express

Use these online grocery sites to help you find current prices. NOTE: Make sure you are finding prices for the exact amount. For example, the price of 10 bars of soap in 1933 was .27 - when you look up the current price of soap, you may need to calculate the price of 1 bar of soap by ten. Don't get hung up on brand names or bargain hunting. Your objective is to find out the difference between what it costs to shop for groceries in 1933 and now. Just find an "average" product price.

OPTION #1: How much more does a trip to the grocery store cost today (twice as much, five times as much)? Use the information you have from the spreadsheet to figure that out.

Why are items so much more costly today? Investigate the reasons for inflation & find out more about life during the Depression by clicking the links below (Share what you learn by deciding what you would do with a $50 bill if you found it during this tough time in history... Tell us about it in a Word document & print it.)

Click here for 1930s history including Inflation, Prices,Popular Culture, &some cool videos too!

Click here to find more fun facts about how much it cost to buy everyday items "THEN" and "NOW"

Click here for 1930s history including Inflation, Prices,Popular Culture, &some cool videos too!


===This is a real letter written to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on October 14, 1936. It's written by a young person who is looking for help for her family: After you read it, imagine you are Mrs. Roosevelt's secretary, typing a letter in response. What would you say? (Type your response in a Word document & print it when you have the most thoughtful answers to her pleas.)===

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt,

Probably you are wondering who is writing you. I am Welthie S--. I was born in Louisiana and lived there until the year 1933 when we moved to Georgia. I am in the eleventh grade. The reason I am writing you is because I wish to ask you to loan me one hundred dollars ($100). Please if you can lend it to me because I really need it. I will pay you back.... The reason for my asking you to lend it to me are these.

First, I wish to have my teeth attended to. I'm having a terrible time with two of my teeth. One I keep filled with a piece of cotton with camphor on it, the other I can't because it won't stay in and under my jaw on that side there is a hard ball in the inside caused whenever my tooth gets sore and it hurts all the time. All my teeth are decayed except for my front teeth and they are starting to decay. I can't have them fixed because my daddy hasn't the money to fix them....

The second reason is I want to buy me some clothes. I haven't bought any this year. All I have except two were given me by my sisters, they are married. Papa won't buy me any. It's always wait, take your time. Anyway I can't get along with them and its not my fault. Papa hates me and every time he gets angry, he takes it out on me. Anything that gets lost he blames on me and he says that I hid it. I'm not that kind of a person and I don't. Mama and me are always quarreling and its her, she's always picking at me and I can't help but answer her back when she talks to me. She sure believes in whipping. We've been in fusses lately here lately and she told me he wasn't going to have anything to do with me, papa said so also. Papa is always threatening to whip me and tells me that he is going to use his shoe on me....

The third reason is that I want to have money enough to buy my clothes when I graduate. I will have to buy invitations and my diploma also.

The fourth reason is that when I graduate I'm going to go into training to be a nurse. To enter I will need about $15.00. Mama and papa do not intend for me to work,. They expect me to stay home the rest of my life unless I get married. Mama says a decent girl cannot get a job....

My family is not a low class, they are among the nicest people of the town, but nobody knows what is under the surface of a family. So please do not ever mention this to any one. I trusted that you wouldn't ever tell this, so please destroy this letter. I have told mama I'm going to leave, she doesn't know where I'm going, she said I was crazy and doesn't believe I'll leave....

I'm a good student in school, my marks are A's and B's, mostly A's. I'm leaving home next week so won't you lend me this money? ... Please answer the next day after you receive this letter and send me that money. I am enclosing a picture of me so that you'll know about what I look like. I wish to thank you very much if you will lend it to me.

Yours truly,

(Miss) Welthie S.
Stillmore, Georgia

Weekly Wages:



Worker $16.89

Cook $15.00

Doctor $61.11

Accountant $45.00

This website was adapted from originally authored by Nadine Norris. The attached spreadsheet has been modified to calculate price per item by Sue Law, gifted resource teacher, Hille Middle School.