Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Bringing up Father: Comic strips in the Lethbridge Herald during the Great Depression

The Sunday morning funny pages bring laughter to people all over Canada every week. The tradition of reading the ‘funnies’ has brought a lightness to the often depressing, shocking, or upsetting news. The comic strip “Bringing Up Father” by George McManus brought laughter into the homes of Lethbridge Herald readers during the Great Depression. These comic strips by George McManus featured an upper-middle class family, with the grumpy and mischievous father, Jiggs, as the main character. 

Lethbridge Herald, June 4, 1930.

The comic strip’s plot usual featured the social blunders and misadventures of the “Bringing Up Father” family. The plot of most of the “Bringing Up Father” comic strips begins with Jiggs getting caught in a lie and Maggie either throwing a rolling pin or dishes at him. The comics explore familiar but mundane conflicts that many upper-middle class families and couples would have experienced. However, the themes of “Bringing Up Father” during the 1930s rarely referenced the Great Depression that the world was experiencing.

Lethbridge Herald, June 15, 1938.
In 1931 and 1932, the two worst years of the Great Depression in Canada, The “Bringing Up Father” comics rarely mentioned economic plight, not to mention the world wide Depression. During the Great Depression Canadian unemployment rates never dropped below twelve percent! Although the “Bringing Up Father” comics seem to ignore the plights of the Great Depression, by doing so McManus allowed readers to temporarily escape from the hardships all around them. The stories of Jiggs, his wife Maggie, and their daughter Nora brought laughter to people all over North America during some of the most dismal years in history.

You can view the “Bringing Up Father” comic strips at the Lethbridge Herald online database at the Galt Archives.

If you are interested in comics you may also want to check out Nerd Fest at the Galt Museum and Archives this week, March 21-23, 2013. Click here to learn more about Nerd Fest!

By Karissa Patton
Karissa Patton is a fourth-year History major at the University of Lethbridge who is interested in Southern Alberta Women’s History. This spring she is the archives assistant social media contributor for the Galt Museum & Archives, earning Applied Studies credit while sharing stories uncovered in the archives.

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