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The Depression Era
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1930s: The Great Depression

The stock market crash of 1929, called Black Tuesday, precipitated the Great Depression of the 1930s. Millions of Americans were out of work.

Adults were desperate for new vocational skills to gain employment, so the population of students became older in daytime classes. Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls area programs were renamed Vocational, Technical and Adult Education.

By 1938, the Eau Claire school’s commercial department became its largest department, with high school graduates from 37 surrounding towns, according to the school’s “Vo-Clarion” yearbook.

Increasing needs for classroom space also led to the construction of Chippewa Falls’ first vocational school in 1937 at 2 W. Cedar. It housed an office, classrooms, machine tool shops, and a sewing room. Other classes continued in the old high school.


Wisconsin vocational school enrollment exceeds 87,000 students.
Federal Relief classes offered in Chippewa Falls as a result of New Deal Works Progress Administration – effort to employ unemployed teachers to provide literacy, vocational, and adult education
New Deal funding establishes hundreds of new “emergency” vocational schools.
National Youth Administration set up in Chippewa Falls – Another New Deal Agency work program that helped students find jobs in school laboratories, libraries, and playgrounds.
Eau Claire’s first building for vocational education is established at the Sixth Ward School on Mappa Street. The building is remodeled, and a one-story general shop area is added.
Chippewa Falls’ first vocational building is built at 2 West Cedar. It includes an office, classrooms, machine tool shops, and a sewing room.
Eau Claire adds a second story to the shop area in the Sixth Ward School.
Area Vocational Bill broadens economic base for vocational schools struggling to education Depression-era students.