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The Great Depression and The New Deal

This covers the period from the Stock Market Crash of 1929 until the beginning of the U.S. involvement in World War II in 1941.

Selected Books

Brands, H. W.
Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
E807.B735 2008
Traitor to His Class sheds new light on FDR's formative years, his remarkable willingness to champion the concerns of the poor and disenfranchised, his combination of political genius, firm leadership, and matchless diplomacy in saving democracy in America during the Great Depression and the American cause of freedom in World War II. This is also available as a book on CD (29 sound discs!).
Cohen, Adam (Adam Seth)
Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America
E806.C5925 2009
The first 100 days of Franklin Roosevelt's term as US president in 1933 was a watershed that transformed country's economy and government yet Cohen argues that FDR had no specific plans when he took office and that the programs that became The New Deal were hammered out by him and five colleagues (Raymond Moley, Frances Perkins, Lewis Douglas, Harry Hopkins, and Henry Wallace) as they went along. This is also available as a book on CD.
Lindenmeyer, Kriste
The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in The 1930s
HQ792.U5 L56 2005
This scrupulously researched volume is part of the American Childhoods series and chronicles the lives and times of Americans who grew up during the Great Depression and entered adulthood during World War II.
Orgill, Roxane
Dream Lucky: When FDR Was in the White House, Count Basie Was on the Radio, and Everyone Wore a Hat...
E806.O74 2008
Orgill, an independent author and former music critic, focuses on the popularity of Big Band jazz from 1936 to 1938, and how this musical genre affected politics, race, religion, sports and the arts during that period, using the career of Count Basie as a touchstone. It was a time when the radio was always on.
Shlaes, Amity
The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression
E806.S52 2007
Shlaes reviews the history of the Great Depression in the United States, arguing that its duration stemmed in large part from too much federal intervention in the economy, rather than too little. In seeking to help the "forgotten man" man of Democratic political advertising, she argues, the Roosevelt administration made a scapegoat of another "forgotten man," the American businessman. This scapegoating polarized the country and extended the depression.
Smith, Jean Edward
Smith received the Francis Parkman Prize in 2008 from the Society of American Historians for this biography. This is also available as a book on CD (26 discs!).


Brother, can you spare a dime?
This documentary juxtaposes newsreel footage, film clips and period music in an eye-opening look at the Great Depression. Many of the movies created in the 1930s featured strong social commentary, while others offered pure escapism and fed a fascination with a dazzling world out of reach to the everyday American. Through a contrast between the fantasy of film and the reality of everyday life, a fascinating perspective on the Great Depression and Hollywood's golden age is presented.
The Panic Is On: The Great American Depression as Seen by the Common Man
(DVD) E801.P36 2009x
This multifaceted set communicates both the painful hard times of the Great Depression and the grace and strong will of the common man in confronting it. Period newsreel and documentary film footage convey the feel of the times. Classic musical recordings reflect the popular mood of the day. The booklet includes photographs, letters, and first hand recollections.

Web Sites

  • America in the 1930s
    A site from the University of Virginia offering a multimedia sampling of life in the United States in the 1930s. Included are movies, art, radio, magazines, books and explanatory text to go with them.
  • Harlem Renaissance: Carl Van Vechten Photographs 1932-1964
    The Carl Van Vechten Photographs Collection at the Library of Congress consists of 1,395 photographs taken by American photographer Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) between 1932 and 1964. The bulk of the collection consists of portrait photographs of celebrities, including many figures from the Harlem Renaissance.
  • The New Deal Network
    "You've stepped back in time to the 1930s. America is in the midst of the Great Depression. Millions are out of work; businesses, farms, and schools are in danger; many families are struggling."
    Investigate the public works programs that President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted with The New Deal Network presenting monthly features spotlighting individual projects, class exercises geared to grades 7-12, a database of documents, images, audio, and video clips taken from leading national and state archives, and a timeline important New Deal dates. You can even "join up" and participate in the enterprise. NDN is now based at the Institute for Learning Technologies (ILT) at Columbia University.
  • A New Deal for the Arts
    Samples of artwork from the New Deal art projects, from the National Archives and Records Administration. "During the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s and into the early years of World War II, the Federal government supported the arts in unprecedented ways. For 11 years, between 1933 and 1943, federal tax dollars employed artists, musicians, actors, writers, photographers, and dancers. Never before or since has our government so extensively sponsored the arts."
  • American Experience on PBS: 1931-1940
    • The Crash of 1929
      The unbounded optimism of the Jazz Age and the shocking consequences when reality finally hit on October 29th, ultimately leading to the Great Depression.
    • The Civilian Conservation Corps
      One of the most popular New Deal programs, the CCC put three million young men to work in camps across America during the height of the Great Depression.
    • Riding the Rails
      Tales of the 250,000 teenagers who hopped a freight during the Great Depression of the 1930s searching for a better life.
    • Surviving the Dustbowl
      The catastrophic 8 year drought that began in 1931 in the Southern Plains states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico and drove many farmers to migrate to California.
  • Temperance and Prohibition
    An Ohio State University Project in American History.