Hunger marches in Olympia

Hunger march rally in Olympia. Washington State Archives. 1933.


"Hunger marches" took place in Olympia, Washington, on Jan. 17 and March 2, 1933. Protesters demanded that the state government provide food, shelter, relief, and programs to create jobs for the unemployed throughout the state.


Start with secondary sources 

Use secondary sources to gain basic knowledge of your topic, its significance, and historical context.

Ask a Librarian online at Washington State Library to get expert help in locating useful secondary sources. 


Then use primary sources

Use primary sources to deepen your understanding of the topic, and assemble evidence to support your own analysis and interpretation.

Ask an Archivist online at Washington State Archives to get expert help in locating useful primary sources.


Some key historical research questions:

  • What created the conditions that led to these "hunger marches”?
  • Why did the hunger marchers choose Olympia for their march?
  • Why did they choose marching as their form of protest?
  • Who were they trying to influence?
  • How did the governor react to the march on Jan. 17?
  • What was the McDonald Bill?
  • What was the Washington Emergency Relief Administration?
  • How did the groups that organized the hunger marches react to the McDonald Bill?
  • Why was another hunger march staged on March 2?
  • What was the Morrow Bill?
  • What was the hunger marches’ long-term impact?
  • What were the Commonwealth Federation and the Unemployed Citizens League, and how were they involved?
  • Who were the American Vigilantes of Thurston County?
  • Were there other hunger marches in the United States during the 1930s?
  • Where did they take place?
  • Who were Clarence Martin, Roland Hartley, P. Frank Morrow, and Donald A. McDonald, and what roles did they play in public relief in Washington state during the Great Depression?
  • Consider other possibilities for historical questions as you analyze and interpret this topic.


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