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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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A Citizen Claims the New Deal is a Path Towards Socialism

This 1934 letter to Senator Robert F. Wagner protests President Roosevelt's New Deal policies. The writer argues for stimulating private business to create employment, and against increasing the role of the federal government. Since the 19th [...]

A Citizen Sees Socialism and Communism in the New Deal (with text supports)

This letter to Senator Robert F. Wagner describes the author's fears that New Deal policies will lead the nation on the path to socialism, communism, or fascism. This version includes text supports such as definitions.

President Roosevelt Seeks Feedback on New Deal Programs

In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent this letter to clergymen around the country. He received over 100,000 responses from priests, rabbis, and ministers serving diverse congregations that varied by geography, size, religious views, and [...]

Differing Federal Responses to the Great Depression: Letter Analysis

In this activity students read two letters (one from Hoover, one from FDR) to determine different political beliefs that guided the presidents in their responses to the Great Depression.

Graph of Federal Spending (in millions of dollars), 1929-1945

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 [...]

A White-Collar Worker Calls the New Deal "Downright Stealing"

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 [...]

An Ordinary Georgian "Wants Lights!"

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 [...]

Timeline of Selected New Deal Legislation

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 [...]

A "Great Cause for Better Citizens"? Attitudes Towards the New Deal

In this activity students read letters from ordinary people to government leaders in the Roosevelt Administration. Then they interpret the range of attitudes about the changing role of the federal government during the New Deal. The letters for [...]

Picketers Demand More from the New Deal

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 [...]