Theme: American Political Thought: The Constitution and American Democratic Institutions
Topic: The New Deal: Expanding Government in Time of Need
Date: December 2005
Annotated Bibliography | Books | Articles | Juvenile Literature | Websites and Web Resources | Related Archives and Collections | Other
Resources and Links compiled and annotated by Matthew Masur, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of History, St. Anselm College and SALEM in History staff.
Brinkley, Alan. The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Depression and War. New York: Knopf, 1995.
Brinkley examines the ways that the “Roosevelt Recession” and the failed court-packing plan influenced the New Deal.
Brinkley, Alan. Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression. New York: Knopf, 1982.
Brinkley concludes that Long and Coughlin were neither anti-democratic demagogues nor great proponents of progressive change. Instead, they attempted to “defend the autonomy of the individual and the independence of the community against the encroachments from the modern industrial state.”
Cohen, Lizabeth. Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
Cohen’s book is a good example of the recent trend of looking at the New Deal from the “bottom-up” rather than the “top-down.” She explores Chicago’s working class from the early 1900s until the Great Depression. With the failure of ethnically-based societies and welfare capitalist employers, Chicagoans turned to the federal government and industrial unions to alleviate poverty. \
Finegold, Kenneth and Theda Skocpol. State and Party in America’s New Deal: Industry and Agriculture in America’s New Deal. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995.
Finegold and Skocpol focus on two major New Deal programs – the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) and the National Recovery Administration (NRA), its industrial counterpart. The scholars use a historical and institutional approach to explain why the AAA was so politically and economically successful while the NRA was deemed a complete failure. By examining the origins, implementation and effects of the similar programs, they show how the AAA worked for commercial farmers, neglecting sharecroppers, small farmers, etc. in contrast to the NRA which encouraged union organization and ultimately worked against the interests of big business.
Foner, Eric. The Story of American Freedom. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1998.
See Chapter 9. According to Foner, the Great Depression caused a reassessment of what it meant to be “free” in America. In the 1930s, people came to believe that the government was responsible for guaranteeing a degree of economic security as a condition for personal freedom.
Fraser, Steve and Gary Gerstle, eds. The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 1930- 1980. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990.
This collection of essays explores the New Deal and its legacy. About eight of the twelve chapters deal with the legacy of the New Deal after World War II.
Gordon, Colin. New Deals: Business, Labor, and Politics in America, 1920-1935. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Gordon claims that business interests shaped the New Deal and that it was a conservative movement. From the 1920s through the 1930s, businesses wanted to rationalize economic forces. Earlier attempts failed, so during the depression businesses turned to government to organize the market. This even meant giving unions more power, because it both increased organization and prevented the need for government regulation.
Gordon, Linda. Pitied but not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995. (rpt)
Gordon’s book is an important study of the mixed legacy of New Deal welfare programs. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies established the idea that the federal government was responsible for the economic well-being of Americans, but the programs themselves failed to live up to this standard. Moreover, Social Security created a distinction between the “deserving” poor (the elderly and unemployed) and the “undeserving poor” (families receiving assistance for dependent children).
Hawley, Ellis. The New Deal and the Problem of Monopoly: A Study in Economic Ambivalence. Fordham University Press, 1995. (rpt.)
Hawley argues that monopolies posed the biggest problem for New Dealers. Although the New Dealers favored different strategies, they agreed that the federal government had to take some action to regulate or destroy monopolies, thus guaranteeing that the U.S. would not return to laissez-faire economic policies.
Hofstadter, Richard. The Age of Reform: From Bryan to FDR. New York: Vintage, 1960.
The Age of Reform places the New Deal in the context of Progressive-Era reforms. Most of the book is devoted to the events leading up to FDR’s presidency.
Kennedy, David. Freedom from Fear.The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945. Oxford University Press, 2001. (new edition)
Chapters 1-12 of Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book cover the Great Depression and the New Deal.
Leuchtenberg, William. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal: 1932-1940. New York: Harper Collins, 1963.
A classic study of Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency. According to Leuchtenberg, Roosevelt created a new political and economic order that recognized the needs of a variety of groups and classes would be represented. Leuchtenberg’s book remains one of the standard accounts of the New Deal.
Melosh, Barbara. Engendering Culture: Manhood and Womanhood in New Deal Public Art and Theater. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.
Melosh analyzes art works from two New Deal programs – the Treasury Section of Fine Arts and the Works Project Administration (WPA). Melosh points to the many subtle as well as covert sexual and racial symbols in the public visual culture created in this period. She includes many small illustrations in the text.
Sitkoff, Harvard. ANew Deal for Blacks: The Emergence of Civil Rights as a National Issue: The Depression Decade. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.
Sitkoff looks at the growing support for African American equality in the 1930s. While some of these advances were a result of the New Deal, Sitkoff points to a variety of other factors, including Eleanor Roosevelt’s advocacy, the activities of the American left, and the growing Democratic majorities in Congress.
Terkel, Studs. Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 2000.
A collection of reminiscences from people who lived through the Great Depression.
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Bateman, Fred and Taylor, Jason E. “Franklin Roosevelt, Federal Spending and the Postwar Southern Economic Rebound.” Essays in Economic and Business History 2002 20: 71-83.
“Franklin D. Roosevelt publicly stated his devotion to the South and pledged to help reform the region's laggard economy. However, Southern states received significantly fewer federal expenditures per capita during both the New Deal of the 1930's and the military emergency of the 1940's. This article investigates economic, political, and strategic reasons for this result.” – American History & Life.
Bustard, Bruce I. “A New Deal for the Arts.” Prologue 1997 29 (1): 62-69.
“During 1933-43 the federal government employed millions of Americans and supported the arts on a grand scale. The Works Progress Administration and other government agencies, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Federal Art Project, provided work for unemployed artists. The larger mission was to promote American art and culture and to provide wider access to art nationwide. New Deal art reveals a preoccupation with all things American and the lives and struggles of ordinary folk. The National Archives exhibition A New Deal for the Arts tells the story of these cultural endeavors.” – American History & Life.
Fogel, Jared A. and Stevens, Robert L. “The Canvas Mirror: Painting as Politics in the New Deal.” Magazine of History 2001 16(1): 17-25.
“During the Great Depression, the federal government funded art programs, such as the Public Works of Art Project and the Federal Art Project, that resulted in the painting of murals in public locations. The murals ran the gamut in style from regionalism, to social realism, to American idealism, and, in the late 1930's, anti-fascism.” – American History & Life.
Lapomarda, Vincent A. “A New Deal Democrat in Boston: Maurice J. Tobin and the Policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” Essex Institute Historical Collections 1972 108(2): 135-152.
“Discusses Tobin and his reactions to both foreign and domestic policy formulated by the administration under Roosevelt, 1933-45.” – American History & Life.
McKenna, James F. “Narrative Reports from the WPA.” Spinner: People and Culture in Southeastern Massachusetts 1988 4: 26-33.
“Reprints a 1936 Federal Writers' Project account of New Deal employment and public works projects carried out under the Civil Works Administration, the Works Progress Administration, and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration in New Bedford, Massachusetts.” – American History & Life.
Robbins, William G. “Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Emergence of the Modern West.” Journal of the West 1995 34(2): 43-48.
“During 1933-41, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Dealers supported grand projects like Boulder Dam and Grand Coulee Dam and the blockage of other Western waterways, claiming these projects bettered economic conditions in the West by creating employment, supplying electricity, controlling floods, and promoting arid-land reclamation. Although unprecedented, voters accepted such federal actions, because the Great Depression had altered their attitudes about the role of the government. Roosevelt continued to depend on this increased acceptance of the role of the federal government in order to expand federal power, strengthen the position of the Democratic Party in the West, and improve human welfare.” – American History & Life.
Rosenzweig, Roy and Melosh, Barbara. “Government and the Arts: Voices from the New Deal Era.” Journal of American History 1990 77(2): 596-608.
“The current debate concerning government funding of art projects offers new insight to a similar debate that surrounded New Deal funding of the arts. A large body of oral testimony helps to document the earlier debate. Historians generally look favorably upon the funding of arts projects during the Great Depression, but some express "concern about bureaucratic interference with art" and the government's role in sponsoring national culture. This historiographic assessment is further complicated by art historians' renunciation of the New Deal's visual arts projects as being pedestrian because of their "commitment to representational art" and modernism.” – American History & Life.
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Booth, David and Karen Reczuch (illustrator). The Dust Bowl.. Kids Can Press, 2002.
Grades K-3. “History can be difficult for children to conceptualize, but here a boy's breakfast connects him to the past. The dust that coats Matthew's cereal bowl becomes a metaphor for the drought his family faces. Like the "Big Dry" of the 1930s, there's too little rain and too much wind for the wheat they grow on their farm. Listening to his grandfather's stories about life on their Canadian farm during those years, and watching his father toil for the land he loves, Matthew learns that determination has overcome hardship in the past and likely can again…” – School Library Journal
Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust. Scholastic Paperbacks, 1999.
Appropriate for middle school. Grade 8 in Salem Public School curriculum. Overview at: http://www.plc.vic.edu.au/Library/outdust/dust.htm.
Olsen, Tillie. Yonnondio: From the Thirties
This novel follows the Holbrook family from the late 1920s through the Great Depression as they migrate in search of a better life. They begin in the coal mines of Wyoming, travel to Nebraska to attempt tenant farming and eventually end up in the slaughterhouses of Omaha, Nebraska. The fantastic imagery in this work of fiction makes it easy for students to picture these horrible living and working conditions after reading only a short excerpt (especially if read aloud). (196p.) Appropriate for grades 9-12. Easily works for both a history and literature lesson combined.
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CCC Museum and Research Center
The website for the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal project focused on environmental and historic preservation. Hosted by an association of alumni of the CCC, the website includes a history and bibliography of the CCC and a few primary sources.
Crash of 1929
This site includes a discussion of the causes of the 1929 stock market crash, along with audio clips of songs related to the crash.
New Deal Network
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute
The New Deal Network is a clearinghouse of primary sources, lesson plans and other educational material. This huge resource includes more than 20,000 documents, images and sound clips relating to the public works and arts projects of the New Deal. Also includes the “Dear Mrs. Roosevelt” letters. The website was created by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and includes primary sources from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, NARA, the Library of Congress, other archives and material contributed by visitors. A great resource for all grade levels.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum
The FDR Presidential Library has digitized a number of documents, photographs, audio clips and educational material related to his presidency. Click on “Digital Archives Search” to search primary sources; click on “Education” for links to teaching material and student activities. Note: photographs in the digital archive are copyright-free and can be purchased from the website.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Internet Public Library
This Internet Public Library site contains biographical information about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his election to the presidency and links to Internet biographies and resources about him.
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers Project, 1936 - 1940
Library of Congress
This collection is a portion of the Library of Congress’s Federal Writers Project material which includes interviews, essays, oral histories, photographs and publications produced during this WPA project for unemployed writers. The website includes a slideshow introduction to the collection and a searchable database of digitized primary sources. Also see “The Learning Page” (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/index.html) for lesson plans and other activities.
By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936 - 1943
Library of Congress
A digital collection of more than 900 posters created for the WPA to promote federal programs ranging from adult education to public health to art exhibits. The collection can be searched by date, artist or topic and includes a bibliography. Other relevant collections from the American Memory website include:
African American Odyssey: The Depression, New Deal, and World War II
Library of Congress
This library of Congress site covers the history of African Americans during the years of the Depression and World War II. It includes 240 primary sources including: books, manuscripts, government documents, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings.
Southern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip
Library of Congress
This site from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, provides 700 soundrecordings, as well as field notes, dust jackets, and manuscripts from the Lomax collection of American folk songs collected and recorded across the South.
Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection, 1940-1
Library of Congress
This Library of Congress site includes Farm Security Administration studies of migrant work camps in California in 1940 and 1941, with audio recordings, photographs, manuscript materials, publications, and ephemera.
A New Deal for the Arts
National Archives & Records Administration
This online exhibit on arts programs funded during the New Deal makes use of many primary sources housed at NARA. Includes digital images of WPA posters, murals, photographs and background information on the various WPA arts projects.
Using the Web to Explore the Great Depression
Organization of American Historians
This article, reprinted from the OAH Magazine of History, provides links to online teacher resources and lesson plans relating to teaching the Great Depression. The entire fall 2001 issue of Magazine of History is dedicated to the Great Depression: http://www.oah.org/pubs/magazine/greatdepression/index.html.
Center for New Deal Studies
This website for Roosevelt University in Chicago includes resources for teachers on the New Deal.
Social Security History
Social Security Administration
Timelines, transcribed oral histories, activities and primary sources relating to the history of the Social Security Administration and the Social Security program.
University of Virginia
This site from the University of Virginia’s American Studies program contains materials about the culture and history of the 1930s.
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Related Archives and Collections
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