Voices rose against "the big money men," "dishonest men at the head of this government," "bad managers," "poor providers," and so on. Persons evicted from their homes and apartments or foreclosed off their land lost both pride of ownership and pride in themselves.....
More and more Americans diverted their energies from producing to surviving. Clothes were stitched and mended again and again, mothers extended meals with watery soups, farmers who could not sell their corn burned it for fuel. When fathers could not find work, mothers and sons went looking.....
Such examples could be multiplied indefinitely---as they were among the 123 million Americans of the early 1930s. Indeed, this was what made them important. These experiences were common enough that they produced the result indicated by the census returns.
In the above, who does "poor providers" specifically refer to?
And I'm not sure what "this" and "them" each refer to in the second part. I can translate it literally, but it's hard to grasp what it's saying in the context.
I assume that the "poor providers" are those government or private agencies who inefficiently provide financial aid, social services, and employment opportunities.
"This" refers to the totality of examples of people who were poor, yet were hard-working, proud, and innovative.
"Them" refers to the people themselves.
Even more nebulous is the use of "they" in the same part of that paragraph. "They" obviously refers to the destitute Americans but the sentence is constructed so that "they" appears to refer to the examples.
However, I'm still confused about the meaning of the second sentence.
Even if I reconstruct the sentence like "The totality of examples of those people was what made the people important," I'm not quite sure what this means.
Would you please paraphrase it again?