John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath was published. The book told the story of an Oklahoma sharecropper family forced to migrate to California in search of work. The book instantly became a literary emblem of the Great Depression and soon earned the Pulitzer Prize and was instrumental in his selection for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The German passenger airship Hindenburg was destroyed in a disastrous fire as it tried to land near Lakehurst, New Jersey. Thirty-seven aboard were killed. A radio broadcaster assigned to cover the ship’s arrival described the disaster as it happened, declaring, “Oh, the humanity!”
John Collier persuaded Congress to pass the Indian Reorganization Act, which terminated the allotment program of the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887; provided funds for tribes to purchase new land; offered government recognition of tribal constitutions; and repealed prohibitions on Native American languages and customs. Later the same year, federal grants were provided to local school districts, hospitals, and social welfare agencies to assist American Indians.
A Memorial Day steel workers strike in Chicago turned violent when tensions between demonstrators and police peaked. The police threw tear-gas bombs into the crowd and opened fire on the demonstrators. Ten people were killed and dozens more injured.
The economy relapsed in the “Roosevelt Recession.” Encouraged by the successes he saw resulting from New Deal programs, President Roosevelt felt the economy had turned around and he cut spending. At that point, companies failed, unemployment rose, and the stock market fell. Roosevelt responded with a new spending program, and the economy largely returned to pre-1937 levels by the middle of 1938.