Great Depression

29 Oct 1929 -- 07 Dec 1941

Aside from times of war, the Great Depression was perhaps the darkest chapter in 20th century American history. It profoundly affected our nation and culture in ways not seen since. The economic collapse was not the only consequence of this era. Social structures were strained, long kept traditions were tested, millions of individuals and families were displaced and for a time the very survival of the nation and the world was in doubt.


Optimism Following Stock Market Crash

30 Oct 1929

On the day after the infamous stock market crash of 29 October 1929, at least one newspaper held out hope that the trend would be short-lived. We know how that turned out!


Franklin D Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address  (04 Mar 1933)

This is a recording of FDR's speech after his inauguration as president on 3 March 1933. It includes his famous line that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself".

Roosevelt's Fireside Chat on the Banking System  (12 Mar 1933)

The first of many of Roosevelt's direct addresses to the American people. This broadcast focused on Roosevelt's actions regarding the banking system.

FDR Fireside Chat -- Introducing the New Deal  (07 May 1933)

Just two months into his presidency, Roosevelt delivered this address to outline his plan to combat the Great Depression.


Roosevelt's First Inauguration -- 1933  (1933)

Rare newsreel video of FDR's first inauguration.

Jimmy Durante and the NRA  (1933)

This short film features popular entertainer Jimmy Durante extolling the benefits of the National Recovery Administration, a New Deal program which attempted to eliminate competition by encouraging businesses to fix prices and agree upon so called fair practices codes. Most of the NRA provisions were later ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.

The Plow That Broke The Plains  (1936)

The Plow That Broke the Plains is a 1936 short documentary film which shows what happened to the Great Plains region of the United States and Canada when uncontrolled agricultural farming led to the Dust Bowl. It was written and directed by Pare Lorentz. The film was narrated by the American actor and baritone Thomas Hardie Chalmers.

Rain for the Earth  (1937)

This WPA film focuses on social and economic wastes resulting from continued drought in the midwestern dust bowl and efforts of the federal government in attempting to remedy such conditions. Several views indicate the condition of the land from which much of the moisture has gone.

We Work Again  (1937)

n the 1930s, the economic depression has been especially hard on African-American families and communities. But the federal government's Works Progress Administration now provides many new opportunities for employment and advancement. Both skilled and unskilled laborers are employed in many public works projects. Others find work in a wide range of fields, including education, medicine, and even music and the performing arts.