During the Depression, California physician Dr. Francis Townsend advocated for the creation of a federally-funded pension plan for elderly Americans. The “Townsend Plan” gained broad popularity throughout the country and ultimately influenced Roosevelt’s development of the Social Security Act, passed in 1935.
Dr. Francis Townsend, ca. 1939-1940. Photograph by Harris & Ewing. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.