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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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This short documentary overviews the Civilian Conservation Corps, the New Deal's first relief program. It focuses on the experiences, both positive and negative, of the nearly 3,000,000 "soil soldiers" who labored in CCC camps.

In his first year in office, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was wary of running a budget deficit. Consequently many early New Deal programs attempted to create temporary (rather than permanent) direct aid programs and to bring government planners,…

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During his first two years in office, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress passed programs intended to provide temporary but immediate relief to those who were struggling and restore confidence in the banks. Roosevelt’s critics demanded…

We Want Lights.jpg
The sign on this car is addressed to the head of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), which developed electrical infrastructure (power lines, hydroelectric dams) and cooperatives for farmers to buy electricity and electric appliances. Only about…

Conservative critics of the New Deal disliked the new regulations on businesses and feared the long-term consequences of deficit spending, which they likened to socialism and the end of freedom. Some also expressed nativist or racist feelings that…

President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave this speech in Philadelphia at the Democratic National Convention in 1936, at which he was nominated for a second term. In it, he explained why New Deal reforms and spending programs were necessary. Roosevelt…

Graph of US Unemployment Rate 1930-1945.jpg
The unemployment rate rose sharply during the Great Depression and reached its peak at the moment Franklin D. Roosevelt took office. As New Deal programs were enacted, the unemployment rate gradually lowered. Virtually full employment was achieved…

Graph of Federal Spending 1930-1945.jpg
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt entered office in 1933, unemployment hovered around 25%. The private sector, including factories and service industries, remained mired in an intractable depression: no one was spending money and no one was…

Pickets WPA.jpg
African Americans recognized that New Deal programs offered the best opportunity since Reconstruction to improve the incomes, skills, education and housing conditions for the black community. However, as organizations like the National Urban League…

Feeding.png
One of the most enduring images of the Depression is a portrait of a woman and her children in a California migrant labor camp. Taken by FSA photographer Dorothea Lange, it was one of a series of six photographs that Lange shot on a rainy afternoon…
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