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Hobos in Chicago, 1929

A hobo is a North American migrant worker . Hobos are mostly homeless and use freight trains to travel across the country and earn something here and there with smaller jobs.

The heyday of the hobos was the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In times of economic crisis, after wars and especially during the Great Depression , their number increased sharply. In Britt (Iowa) there is a single Hobo cemetery and a Hobo Museum.


The origin of the word is unclear, there are various, unverified theories about it.

Famous hobos

In a ballad that is still known today, the migrant worker and labor leader Joe Hill (1875–1915) is celebrated. Another hobo who later became famous was the writer Jack London , who toured large parts of the United States and Canada from 1893–1894 . Another famous former hobo is the American blues musician Seasick Steve , whose songs often deal with his hobo days. Also Elmore James was a short period of his life as a hobo on the go. The avant-garde musician Harry Partch also lived as a hobo for almost ten years and wrote about it in 1943 his work US Highball - A Musical Account of Slim's Transcontinental Hobo Trip . Another well-known hobo is the country musician Boxcar Willie . Goebel Reeves lived as a hobo for many years and was best known for his Hobo's Lullaby . The author and former professional burglar Jack Black (1868–1933) was also a hobo, and Jacque Fresco (1916–2017) was also a hobo around 1930.

Hobos in culture

Hobos are the subject of many feature films and music:

See also


Web links

Commons : Hobo  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Hobo  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations