Great Depression in the News

Unemployment Expected to Reach Highest Level Since Great Depression – Wall Street Journal, July 7, 2020. Unemployment rates in the world’s advanced economies will end the year higher than at any time since the Great Depression and not return to their pre-pandemic levels until 2022 at the earliest, the Organization for Economic and Cooperation and Development said Tuesday. The Paris-based research institute that serves the U.S. and 36 other countries warned against the premature withdrawal of emergency measures. . . Read more >>>

Artists helped lift America out of the Great Depression. Could that happen again? – Vox, June 22, 2020. In the 1930s, as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and its Works Progress Administration effort, the federal government hired more than 10,000 artists to create works of art across the country, in a wide variety of forms — murals, theater, fine arts, music, writing, design, and more. It was part of a plan to stimulate economic recovery for a country reeling from the Great Depression, widespread poverty, and high unemployment. . . Read more >>>

Great Depression Web Sites

The Presidents: Franklin Delano Roosevelt ★★★★☆
This American Experience resource guide provides primary sources, audio interviews, television program transcripts, teacher’s guides, and more. Special features include an FDR video biography, and a chance to vote on the issues in 1936.

The Great Depression

American Life Histories, 1936-1940 ★★★★☆
These life histories were written by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers’ Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936-1940. The Library of Congress collection includes 2,900 documents representing the work of over 300 writers from 24 states. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents consist of drafts and revisions, varying in form from narrative to dialogue to report to case history. The histories describe the informant’s family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and morals, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations.

Voices from the Dust Bowl (Library of Congress) ★★★★☆
This LOC site documents the everyday life of residents in central California in 1940 and 1941. There are audio recordings, photographs, manuscript materials, publications, related sources, and more.

U.S. Thrilled as FDR Outlines Recovery, 1933/10/23

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum ★★★★☆
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Educational Program website includes biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, a Roosevelt Timeline, Online Documents and Photographs, a Research Guide, and Puzzles and Activities

The Eleanor Roosevelt Project Papers ★★★★☆
This website contains Eleanor Roosevelt’s speeches, articles, letters, and “My Day” columns.

Farming in the 1930’s ★★★★☆
This sites offers interviews, short articles, and plenty of pictures to paint a picture of what life was like during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression. Sub-categories cover new farming technologies, “riding the rails,” drought, New Deal programs, and more.

Voices of Illinois: Oral Histories of the Great Depression ★★★★☆
This University of Illinois archive presents dozens of personal accounts of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. The recordings are from a series of interviews conducted by the university in the early 2000’s with the goal of documenting student life of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: A Resource Guide ★★★★☆
This Library of Congress resource guide links to digital materials related to Roosevelt such as photographs, manuscripts, and sound recordings, as well as external websites.

Breadline: 1929-1939(PBS) ★★★☆☆
Part of PBS’s People’s Century television series, this site explores the massive unemployment in America during the Depression and offers interviews, a timeline, and a teacher’s guide

The Hoover Dam (PBS) ★★★☆☆
A companion to the American Experience video series, the site focuses on the Hoover Dam construction. There is a timeline of construction, Dam facts and environmental issues, maps of the Dam, stories of key characters and incidents and a teacher’s guide

Surviving the Dust Bowl (PBS) ★★★☆☆
Part of PBS’s American Experience television series, this site examines the region in the Southwest renamed the “Dust Bowl” because of a catastrophic eight-year drought. Included is a timeline, maps, eyewitness accounts, New Deal remedies, people and events from the era, and a teacher’s guide.

America from the Great Depression to World War II: Black and White Photographs ★★★☆☆
This Library of Congress collection includes black and white photographs of rural and small-town America and scenes of the World War II mobilization effort.

America in the 1930s ★★★☆☆
This University of Virginia production features a museum for American studies, cultural maps, on-going hypertext projects, an electronic classroom, and special features.

The Flint Sit-Down Strike, 1936-1937 ★★★☆☆
An audio gallery of the famous Flint auto strike featuring a slide show and timeline. From

Studs Terkel: Conversations ★★★☆☆
Produced by the Chicago Historical Society, this site explores the life and work of Studs Terkel, an important American oral historian. Galleries focus on interviews that Mr. Terkel did for his books, including one on the Depression, and also contains a multimedia interview with him.

POTUS: Franklin Delano Roosevelt ★★★☆☆
The Internet Public Library’s POTUS (Presidents of the United States) Web site provides background information, election results, and other information on each of the presidents.

Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides, Activities and more

Brother Can You Spare a Dime: The Effects of the New Deal & the Great Depression (Library of Congress) Part of a Library of Congress impressive collection of exhibits, this site brings the pain of the Great Depression era to life.

The Great Depression and the 1990’s (Lesson Plan) By using the American Memory’s American Life Histories, 1936-1940 documents, personal interviews, and the Library of Congress’s on-line legislative information (THOMAS), students will be able to gain a better understanding of why the government takes care of its people and how this type of welfare state started. Armed with this knowledge, they can then evaluate the current need of government programs, such as welfare, Medicare and Social Security, on the federal and state level.

A Tale of Two Economies (Lesson Plan) In this lesson, students use resources from The New York Times to compare the circumstances under which the Great Depression came about to the circumstances of the current economic crisis.

FDR: Fireside Chats, the New Deal, and Eleanor This five-part series of EdSiteMent lesson plans leads students through the most significant beats of FDR’s presidency. .

Riding the Rails (PBS): Teacher’s Guide Students will learn about “teenage hobos” in this depression-era lesson plan. Emphasis is put on the causes of homelessness and what made these young men leave home. The lesson plan also outlines topics for discussion, as well as small group activities.

Surviving the Dust Bowl (PBS): Teacher’s Guide In this PBS lesson plan, students begin studying “The Dust Bowl” and the way in which farmers reacted to it. The Teacher’s guide includes 8 activities and discussion topics. PBS recommends the purchase of the film Surviving the Dust Bowl in order to fully utilize this lesson plan.

Teacher Lesson Plan: Out of the Dust For grades 6-8, this lesson plan uses photographic examination to teach students about the Dustbowl. This LOC lesson plan also uses PBS resources.

Lesson Plan – Worth a Thousand Words: Depression-Era Photographs Using the authentic photographs that were taken to introduce the New Deal, students will follow this EdSiteMent lesson plan to learn about the experiences of everyday Americans in the era of the Great Depression. Recommended for grades 9-12.

Constitutional Issues: Separation of Powers Presented by the NARA, this article examines FDR’s attempt to add a Justice to the Supreme Court.

Hard Times, Soft Sell In this PBS high school lesson plan, students use online content from the American Visions episode entitled Streamlines and Breadlines as a jumping-off point and then explore the social, political, and artistic climate of the 1930s’ Great Depression and identify themes that permeated the zeitgeist of that era. Using online, software, video, and multimedia resources, students will investigate diverse people’s experiences of the Depression, conduct surveys and interviews, and create and publish a variety of media highlighting Depression-era motifs and resources.

Streamline and Breadlines High School students will learn about the growth and development of cities in America from 1920 through 1940. Immigration, the migration of African-Americans from the South to the urban centers of the North, industrialization, and the Great Depression all affected cities during this period. This lesson will culminate in a student essay that compares two contrasting images from this time period. Students will view two sets of images from Thirteen/WNET’s American Visions Web site. Students will choose one image from each group and compare and contrast the images in an essay.

Hoovervilles during the Great Depression This Library of Congress photo gallery asks students” In what ways do you think life changed for people who lost their jobs, life savings, and homes, and ended up living in Hoovervilles? Do you think most Hooverville residents had a choice about how they lived? Can you think of anything similar to Hoovervilles in the United States today? If so, how are they different or similar to the Hoovervilles of the Great Depression?”

Educational Resources from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s site offers information on the Federal Reserve System and monetary policy with sections for students, teachers, and the general public. A highlight from the Student Activities section is “Chair the Fed” which allows students to explore economics through a fun and interactive game. Teacher Resources provides course material and helpful link. For information on a variety of more specific topics, see the helpful Publications section. The San Francisco Fed has great educational resources—don’t miss the “Chair the Fed game” for younger students!

Will the Millennial Generation Achieve the American Dream? After reading the New York Times article, students can respond to the following questions: Do you think this generation will be affected by the recession? Do you think achieving the classic “American Dream” is still possible for young people?

Milton Friedman Interview In this Q & A, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Chicago Milton Friedman discusses the Great Depression and other socio-economic topics.

Alan Brinkley Interview In this PBS feature Q & A, Columbia University Professor of History and author Alan Brinkley discusses the Great Depression. See also interviews of history professors David Kennedy and James Gregory.

Economics Resources for K-12 Teachers The UNO Center for Economic Education provides thorough and detailed economics lesson plans for grades K-12 that correspond with national standards for public schools. Start with the “Teacher Resources” tab on the top of the page. There are about 30 lessons in total, organized by subject, standard, and grade level. Looking at the “concepts” page under either “K-5” or “6-12” is the easiest way to navigate these. And don’t miss the “NCEE Curriculum Resources” tab—it includes sites for research, teacher guides, glossaries, and games. This is a great site for teachers!

Digital History Resource Guides The Digital Resource Guides provide links to American history web sites by period and provide historical overviews, readings (online textbook chapter, Reader’s Companion), primary source documents (documents, maps, cartoons), teaching resources (chronologies, maps, quizzes), audio-visual resources, and additional resources. The Guides are an excellent and comprehensive teaching resource.

The New Deal: Multiple Choice Quiz, Fill-in-the-Blank, Flashcards, American History Glossary, American History Appendix The Student Resources section of The American Nation companion web site features introductions to chapters, interactive quizzes, flashcards, web links, an American History Glossary, and an American History Appendix.

Stock Market Crash of 1929 This site provides resources to help students examine how people got rich in the 1920s, describe buying stocks on margin, and identify who was affected by the 1929 stock market crash. A companion site to the PBS special, it is best used in tandem with the film.

An Arm and a Leg  In this NYT lesson, students consider the loss of health care coverage among the unemployed and other ways that the recession affects families and the U.S. economy. They are then asked to examine and collect evidence of its effects on their own communities. Could be adapted to fit the 2020 financial crisis instead of the 2008 recession that the lesson was originally created for.

At Home and Abroad: Prosperity and Depression, 1917-1940 Practice Test High School level quiz on Jazz Age and Great Depression from Prentice Hall.

Interpreting Primary Sources Digital History provides brief excerpts from primary sources and statistics and questions to think about the Great Depression and the New Deal.

At Home and Abroad: Prosperity and Depression, 1917-1940: Document Based Essay This Prentice Hall DBQ is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents and is based on the accompanying documents (1-6). AP United States History Quizzes  A New York teacher has produced a great general site for history teachers that offers AP-level United States history quizzes on many different periods and topics.

AP United States History DBQs: 1920-1970 These student-created DBQs are part of the excellent site

Tell Me Something Good In this lesson, students investigate what draws viewers to the movie theater in these difficult economic times and then write essays analyzing a film in that context.

Herbert Hoover Museum Lesson Plans: The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum has created a couple of lesson plans covering the Hoover presidency and the use of political cartoons in the Depression era.