The Great Depression brought grief and hardship across the United States, and Idaho was no different. As much as this has to do with money, a person might expect to find that a university might have a decreased attendance and that student life would dull down. However, for Idaho State University, that that wasn’t the case.
The University’s expansion, student life, and administration were affected of course, but they continued onward in some surprising ways. The student newspaper was as lively as ever through the 1930s. Early 1930’s advertisements dominated the pages of the paper of good times and suit cleaning. However the advertisements dwindled drastically in the later 30s with the exception of the ever-loyal Chesterfield Cigarettes that usually took up a third to a half of the last page. In the 1934 January 11th volume of the paper featured an article entitled, “Birth control is discussed for the first time” after five of forty-two students wrote their papers on the subject in their English Composition class. Things also changed some when some new neighbors moved in down the road from the University and its students when Company 560 of the CCC boys moved from Yellowstone to Pocatello for soil erosion control. The Civilian Conservation Corporation, or CCC for short, was an amazing program for boys 18-25 for them to work on various outside jobs to better the community and natural resources. They enjoyed living closer to the city life and even went to the university to enjoy classes offered.
Administration for the duration of the 1930’s was adamant on making the Idaho College Southern Branch a four year university. However despite their many attempts and pleas to the state, they would not succeed until after the depression. The August 11th 1936 issue of the Idaho Statesman spoke of the plea for the change to a four-year school, “The present educational institutions are not getting all they should have and yet they are getting more than the state can afford”. When rapid growth was seen in student population, it left students on campus with no housing. “Shanky Town” was born, consisting of twelve shacks that stood at the base of Red Hill. This was the unofficial men’s housing until the Federal Administration of Public Works decided that would not do in 1938, so they built Gravely Hall. Other growths were noticed when in the summer of 1930 Summer School was offered for the first time for Idaho State. Professors were making $1,500 to 3,000 a year, which seemed considerably wealthy, compared to all the local Idahoan farmers’ yearly wages. Tuition cost $205.90 in 1933 – a quarter the price of the larger colleges of the west. That financial advantage may have contributed to the enrollment actually increasing from 1929 to 1939 with an average of 2% every year going from 719 to 1,200 students. Interest increased in pharmacy from 6% to 13% of the student population. Whereas music and art was almost the exact opposite, dropping from 13% to 5.5%. People felt the financial fear but their desire to get an education when jobs were scarce was a wise decision, so they would emerge from this depression with an increased chance of a job, if they could just bear through it.
Dean John R. Dyers started his time as dean in the very year the depression started in 1929 and stayed until his tragic death on a summer vacation 1933 in North Dakota, where he died in an Automobile accident. Dr. Ernest Baldwin, an Idaho State chemistry teacher stepped in for a year and then John R. Nicolas took over for the remainder of the Great Depression and then some years after. Right before Dean Dyer’s death, he wrote to the student population in the 1933 student year book entitled the Wickiup, “A miracle will happen to you who are leaving, as you read this book. You have just lived through the hardest year college students have ever known. Unemployment for some, overwork for others, malnutrition, financial anxiety, home troubles, fear of the future, and kindred demons have haunted your waking and sleeping hours. Already these grim realities of yesterday are fading into immaterial phantoms, which will be legends of tomorrow. You will tell your children and your children’s children how you got through college.”
The University and the people’s pursuit for education showed resilience, was admirable, and impressive. Their student spirit was so intense in 1934’s basketball season that on January 25th 1935 the court’s radio booth was erected because the fans were too loud. Idaho State’s student pride maintained itself and grew in one of the hardest eras this nation has ever seen.
– Camille Sterner
 Idaho Techniad, ASISU News Paper, Special Collections and Archives, Eli M. Oboler Library, Idaho State University.
 Ibid, 1.
 Beal, History of Idaho State College (Idaho State University). 1952, pg 95.
 Ibid, 103.
 Idaho Techniad, ASISU News Paper, Special Collections and Archives, Eli M. Oboler L ibrary, Idaho State University.
 Beal, History of Idaho State College (Idaho State University). 1952, pg 81.
 Ibid, 80.
 ISU Annual Catalogs 1930-1939, Special Collections and Archives, Eli M. ObolerL ibrary, Idaho State University.
 Beal, History of Idaho State College (Idaho State University). 1952, 82.
 Wickiup 1934-1935. Special Collections and Archives, Eli M. Oboler Library, Idaho State University.
 Idaho Techniad January 1935, ASISU News Paper, Special Collections and Archives, Eli M. ObolerL ibrary, Idaho State University.
Beal, Merril D., History of Idaho State College (Idaho State University). 1952.
Cheiftan November 1935, Small Manuscripts 147, Box 8 folder 1, Special Collections and Archives, Eli M. Oboler Library, Idaho State University.
Idaho State University Annual Catalogs 1930-1939, Special Collections and Archives, Eli M. ObolerL ibrary, Idaho State University.
Idaho Techniad, ASISU News Paper 1930, 1934, 1935, Special Collections and Archives, Eli M. Oboler Library, Idaho State University.
Wickiup 1934-1935. Special Collections and Archives, Eli M. Oboler Library, Idaho State University.