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USII.12 Analyze the Important People, Policies, and Institutions of the New Deal Era.
Texas dust storm, Great Depression, 1935
A. President Herbert Hoover
B. President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Historical Biography page on Franklin Roosevelt
C. Eleanor Roosevelt
D. Huey Long
E. Charles Coughlin
F. Dorthea Lange
G. Frances Perkins
A. the establishment of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
B. the Securities and Exchange Commission
C. the Tennessee Valley Authority
D. the Social Security Act
E. the National Labor Relations Act
F. the Works Progress Administration
G. the Fair Labor Standards Act
A. the American Federation of Labor
B. the Congress of Industrial Organizations
C. the American Communist Party
Focus Question: Who were the important people and what were the important policies and institutions of the New Deal Era?
Philosophy of the New Deal:
"The New Deal was the name given to Franklin D. Roosevelt's complex package of economic programs developed to combat the Great Depression in the 1930s" (FDR Presidential Library Website).
was based on the ideas that the "forces of government should be marshaled to improve the conditions for the greatest number of Americans, with particular emphasis on the excluded and disadvantaged. It is not government's only obligation, in this view, but it is the paramount one."
In recent decades, the New Deal philosophy's most ardent advocate was Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts who died in August 2009 ("The Roar of the Liberal," Sam Tanenhaus, The New York Times, August 30, 2009, Week in Review, p. 1).
The New Deal philosophy was the dominant view in American society through the "New Frontier" of President John F. Kennedy and the "Great Society" of President Lyndon Johnson. but it was directly challenged by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s whose held "Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."
Interactive Periodic Table of the New Deal
- Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
FDR's New Deal on iTunes
for a video from Crash Course on the New Deal.
to read about how women were effected by the New Deal.
for African Americans and the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps
that explores New Deal policies toward black Americans, accompanied with discussion questions.
for a lesson plan designed to help students understand what living in the Great Depression was like.
for another lesson plan designed to help student learn the different agencies created by the New Deal.
Important People from the New Deal Era:
President Herbert Hoover
President Herbert Hoover
was the 31st President of the United States from 1929-1933.
Wrote the book
Signed the "
Emergency Relief and Construction Act
" - the first program for Federal unemployment assistance, as well as the "Federal Home Loan Bank Act", and the "Reconstruction Finance Act" Agreed to the "Revenue Act of 1932" which raised income tax, on the highest incomes, from 25% to a record 63%. It also doubled estate tax and raised corporate tax by 15%.
Wanted to assist farmers facing foreclosure.
Hoover preached self-reliance and the uniquely American spirit of "rugged individualism"; as President he vetoed a measure to pay out bonuses to desperate World War I veterans with this philosophy in mind.
Even with is a whole host of accomplishments, Hoover’s reputation greatly suffered due to his timid response to the Great Depression. As rate of unemployment increased, so did shantytowns known as Hoovervilles.
He was blamed for the Depression and the suffering of the people.
He was defeated by FDR in the 1932 election.
He was outspoken against the New Deal.
Hoover believed that it would lead to statism.
Herbert Hoover to Henry Stoddard
from History Now
- YouTube video
of an interactive Hooverville lesson activity that gets students involved in creating their own Hooverville.
for a timeline on Hoover's life and presidency.
In 1930, Hoover requested an increase of funds to support the Native Americans. He believed that Native Americans needed more funds in order to support their education, increase health facilities, and provide life necessities. Click
to read the full "Statement on Indian Affairs"
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
was the 32nd President of the United States, from 1933-1945. The only president to serve more than
to learn about 22nd Amendment of the US constitution, which was passed after FDR's presidency and defined a term limit)
Faced a disheartened and severely unemployed nation during the Great Depression, and made every attempt to remedy the situation.
Creator of the
- a program designed to recover the
economy, "provide relief for the unemployed," and reform the US banking systems.
Founded the well-known
Civilian Conservation Corps
, that gave jobs to 250,000 previously unemployed men. These men worked on rural conservation projects across the country.
Pushed for the repeal of Prohibition, and successfully had the legal alcohol limit changed to 3.2% in 1933.
He was elected to four consecutive terms by overwhelming majorities.
During his first 100 days in office he enacted a series of pieces of ground-breaking legislation to address the spiraling economy and institute reform. He sought to re-affirm people's faith in the banking system by closing all banks and examining their assets. He also created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to guarantee people's deposits. He further created the Securities and Exchange Commission to oversee and regulate Wall Street investors. Finally, limits were placed on speculation and mergers by banks to forestall another crash. Many of these regulatory acts were relaxed or done away with altogether by the 1990's which set the stage for the current debacle.
Labor made tremendous gains during this period in spite of a number of major setbacks dealt to them by the Supreme Court.
Ordinary working people got relief from Social Security and Unemployment Insurance - two more firsts in the U.S.
Due to his economic policies, FDR was not always popular among the upper class.
Some members of the upper class referred to FDR as a communist
to read more about the upper class and FDR conflict
Economic Bill of Rights
Economic Bill of Rights
from FDR's State of the Union speech, 1944.
Roosevelt's Economic Bill of Rights
radio address, January 11, 1944. Listen to selections here from YouTube,
FDR giving a fireside chat
One of the more interesting aspects from FDR's presidency was the use of fireside chats.
provides information and lesson plans to teach about the usefulness of FDRs fireside chats.
to read transcripts of FDR's fireside chats.
Here is a lesson plan on the move of African Americans to the Democratic party and their influence on the election of FDR.
Audio and Video from FDR's 1933 Inauguration
- PBS series “The Presidents."
FDR's Inaugural Address 1933
for a timeline on FDR's life and Presidency
to the American Experience video titled "FDR" (It is a long video, but sections could be shown or assigned to watched at home). The video does a great job commemorating FDR's work and dedication. It covers his involvement in all aspects of American policy and life.
Official White House Portrait
Biography of Eleanor Roosevelt
from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library
was the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
An avid promoter of the
and Civil Rights.
Traveled the country and visited many government organizations and programs.
She reported back what she saw and heard to FDR
Supported government funded projects for the arts.
A Women's Suffragist who opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, believing that it would hurt working women.
She encouraged FDR to appoint more women to his cabinet.
She held press conferences for women journalists.
Women journalists were traditionally not allowed in the press room.
She wrote a daily syndicated newspaper column, "My Day" from 1932 to 1962.
Wrote about her beliefs, opinions, and her daily duties.
Has received 35 honorary degrees in her lifetime.
Famous quotes include: "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." and "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
She renounced her membership in the Daughters of the Revolution when they refused to host acclaimed African-American singer Marion Anderson. She organized a highly symbolic outdoor concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial which drew attention to the unfair treatment of black Americans.
Encouraged Europeans to come to America during WWII.
Also helped raise morale, organized volunteers, encouraged women to join the workforce
She played a key role in organizing the United Nations following her husband's death in 1945.
Also lead the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women under JFK
Part of the NAACP and Advisory Council of the Peace Corps
for more information.
Eleanor Roosevelt, Works Progress Administration site, Des Moines, Iowa, 1936
Eleanor Roosevelt as First Lady
, article from History Now
The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project
- PBS Timeline
for a video of Eleanor Roosevelt, "Training Women for War Production" from 1942.
for a lesson plan on letters written to Eleanor Roosevelt during the Depression.
for a lesson plan on Eleanor Roosevelt and the rise of social reform.
Portrait of Huey Long
was the Governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and United States Senator from 1932 to 1935.
Proposed wealth redistribution, by "net asset tax," as a remedy for the Great Depression.
Confiscate wealth of rich and powerful
Guarantee every family $5,000 income
Use for necessities, such as home, car, job, radio
Limit fortunes: private fortunes to $50 million, legacies to $5 million, and annual income of $1 million.
People over 60 would receive a pension.
This plan was called "Share Our Wealth."
for an outline of the plan.
Roosevelt compared him to Hitler and Mussolini, saying he was one of the two most dangerous men in America.
They called him the Kingfisher.
Read excerpts from his autobiography from the Social Security history website
for more information for educators.
Share Our Wealth
- a PBS Timeline
The main character in the novel,
All the King's Men
, by Robert Penn Warren, was supposedly based off of Long. Read an article about it
, and view the trailer for the 1949 move
Reverend Charles Coughlin
(1891-1979) was a Roman-Catholic Priest.
Very popular radio host
On average, 30 million listeners tuned in to his show
Spread his word on his show
Supported the poor, opposed big business
Supported FDR in the 1932 election
Roosevelt or ruin
Spoke at the Democratic convention
Began his career strictly in favor of the New Deal
saying that "The New Deal is Christ's Deal."
Extremely opposed to Roosevelt's New Deal by the latter part of his career.
Increasingly controversial and supportive of Hitler, Mussolini, and fascism.
Published a newspaper called Social Justice, which featured such articles as "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
Primary Source/Multimedia Link:
"Oh you Poor Laborers and Farmers:" Charles Coughlin Speaks to the Nation (1937)
for a clip of Father Coughlin speaking about the Federal Reserve.
Listen and read Coughlin's speech, "
Somebody Must be Blamed
was a Depression Era Photographer.
Famous photo by Lange during Depression, February 1936
One of the most renowned photographers of all time.
Started her photography career in a studio and taking landscape shots.
Unsatisfied by the work, so she started to take shots of ordinary citizens.
Chronicled the hard times of the Depression and showcased images that truly showed how the Depression affected everyday people.
Especially workers and ethnic groups
Shocked by the Japanese internment camps
Worked in the California State Emergency Relief Administration, the Resettlement Administration, War Relocation Authority, and Office of War Information in San Francisco during the 1930s and 1940s.
Even though she was hired by the government, many of her photos were censored, such as her internment camp photos.
for more information and photos by Lange.
Dorothea Lange Timeline
for a gallery of Lange's work
for a lesson plan on Lange. Includes pictures and discussion questions on the pictures.
Frances Perkins, 1936
was an economist and social worker and the Secretary of Labor during the New Deal.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts and graduated from Mt. Holyoke college.
Appointed by Roosevelt as the first woman Cabinet member.
Led the battle against the Great Depression: the Wagner-Peyser Act revitalized the U.S. Employment Service, the Fair Labor. Standards Act set a floor under wages and a ceiling over hours, the Wagner Act protected workers' right to organize.
She established the Labor Standards Bureau.
Through effective relationships with the state governments, she strengthened labor law enforcement by the states.
She was also the principal architect of the Social Security Act.
Served 12 years, 3 months (longer than any other Secretary)
Went on to serve as a Member of the Civil Service Commission
Department of Labor Headquarters named after her in 1980. Inducted into the Labor Hall of Fame in 1988.
for the transcript of a radio speech Perkins made in 1935. In this speech, Perkins describes for the first time what would become Social Security.
for a 45 minutes speech about Perkins given by Kirsten Downey.
Why Frances Perkins is still important in US history
Important Policies of the New Deal Era:
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
was an independent agency of the United States government created in 1933 under a section of the Federal Reserve Act to insure deposits in banks in the event of bank failure. In 1950, the section of the act concerning the corporation was amended and made a separate law, the Federal Deposit Insurance Act. The act provides up to $100,000 insurance for each depositor in an insured bank. A new set of amendments to the act, which went into effect in April 2006, provides insurance up to $250,000 on individual retirement accounts (IRAs) held at banks and savings associations insured by the FDIC and at credit unions insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
The First Fifty Years - A History
- By the FDIC.
for a virtual exhibit from the FDIC.
for the Banking Act of 1933 that created the FDIC.
Your Bank Has Failed: What Happens Next?
60 Minutes presents a video explaining what happens when the FDIC takes over.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
Security and Exchange Commission
is a independent, quasi-judicial agency of the United States government, which is generally responsible for protecting the public against malpractices in the securities and financial markets. It was created by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
The SEC requires most issuers of securities making public offerings in interstate commerce to make known in a prospectus all pertinent facts concerning those offerings. The commission also monitors trading in securities on exchanges and in over-the-counter markets, including short selling and options trading, and regulates the activities of brokers, dealers, and others in the securities business.
The SEC enforces sanctions—including the issuance of injunctions, the initiation of administrative proceedings for the suspension or revocation of brokers' licenses, and the initiation of criminal prosecutions through the United States Department of Justice—against those charged with securities frauds, manipulations, and other violations. In addition, the commission has responsibility for the enforcement of the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935. The SEC also examines protective provisions in mortgage
debentures (a type of bond) under which debt securities are sold to the public. The SEC also participates in the rehabilitation of failing corporations under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
- SEC Historical Museum
for a lesson plan on the SEC.
for the laws that create the SEC.
for a video explaining how the SEC operates.
The Tennessee Valley Corporation
Tennessee Valley Corporation
was a federal corporation, created by the Congress of the United States in 1933 to operate Wilson Dam and to develop the
and its tributaries in the interest of navigation, flood control, and the production and distribution of electricity. Also called the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Related TVA activities, based on the original TVA Act and subsequent enactments, include reforestation, industrial and community development, test-demonstration farming, the development of
, and the establishme
nt of recreational facilities.
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Brings Water comes to Wilder, Tennessee, 1942.
An independent agency of the executive department, the TVA is administered by a board of three officials who are appointed by the U.S. president to staggered terms lasting nine years each; the appointments are subject to approval by the U.S. Senate. The TVA has approximately 19,000 employees. The main offices of the TVA are in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Power generated in TVA plants is distributed over an area of about 207,000 sq km (about 80,000 sq mi). This region has a population of more than 7 million; it comprises Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Mississippi.
For more, see
TVA: Electricity for All
Take a look
to read an account of the problems of race and the TVA.
for a timeline of the TVA.
for the TVA act.
for the TVA Heritage site, which includes info on major events in TVA history.
The Social Security Act
President Roosevelt Signs the Social Security Act, August 14, 1935.
Public programs designed to provide income and services to individuals in the event of retirement, sickness, disability, death, or unemployment. In the United States, the term social security refers specifically to the programs established in 1935 under the Social Security Act. In particular, it refers to the social
portion of that act, which uses contributions made by workers and employers to provide income to people and their families during retirement or in the case of involuntary unemployment, disability, or death.
The Social Security Act was a comprehensive law consisting of 11 titles, or subjects.
Six of the titles detailed specific programs, while the others established methods of
to fund the programs, formed the organization of the controlling government body (the Social Security Board), and established guidelines for the creation of public health facilities.
The six original programs were Old-Age Assistance, Old-Age Benefits (for retirement), Unemployment Compensation, Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), Maternal and Child Welfare, and Aid to the Blind.
To most Americans Old-Age Benefits for retired adults became synonymous with the term
The federal government alone operated this program, whereas states ran the others with grants from the federal government
The Social Security Act of 1935
for a lesson plan on the Social Security Act from EDSITEment.
Listen to and read
Roosevelt's Fireside Chat 7: On the Works Relief Program and Social Security Act
FDR sign the Social Security Act.
From the Atlantic:
Is Social Security the Greatest Government Policy of All Time?
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
The National Labor Relations Acts
are federal laws enacted by the United States Congress in July 1935 to govern the labor-management relations of business firms engaged in interstate commerce. The act is generally known as the Wagner Act, after Senator Robert R. Wagner of New York. The NLRA has the power to form or dissolve private sector unions, investigate unfair labor practices, create settlements, and enforce laws. For a full list, click
The National Labor Relations Act of 1935
for the NLRA archives.
is a PDF of the rights of employees have under the NLRA.
Works Progress Administration
Works Progress Administration
was a United States government agency created to put unemployed people to work on public projects during the depression of the 1930s. Before 1939, it was called the Works Progress Administration. The WPA replaced the earlier Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) but remained under the same director, Harry Hopkins, and was staffed by many of the same personnel. The FERA distributed federal relief funds to each state; it used most funds for subsistence grants to needy families. Because many people considered outright money grants demeaning to the recipients, Hopkins and President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided in 1935 to shift all federal relief funds to a new works program that would uphold the pride and self-respect of workers and still do something to relieve their distress. The funds came from the huge Emergency Relief Appropriation of 1935 ($4.88 billion) and from subsequent congressional appropriations.
The WPA provided jobs, at slightly below prevailing rates, to as many unemployed workers as funds permitted. At its peak in early 1936, the administration employed 3.2 million, or about one-third of those unemployed.
By its termination in 1943, it had employed almost 9 million workers and had provided part-time work for more than 4 million students or youth in an affiliated program (the National Youth Administration).
WPA workers were largely unskilled; thus, WPA work was inefficient in comparison with that of private contractors, and most workers had to remain in construction or road maintenance.
The country is still dotted with WPA buildings (schools, dormitories, and hospitals) and facilities (roads, airports, docks, and parks). Hopkins, however, also wanted to use the skills of highly talented people. This involved not only work for professionals such as teachers and dentists but three special and imaginative projects (the Federal Writers’, Theatre, and Art Projects) that amounted to the largest federal subsidy yet provided for the arts.
The WPA succeeded in its limited goals—to shift the relief effort toward useful work and to force increased demand in the economy—but it was not able to eliminate unemployment or to stimulate full economic recovery.
New Deal/WPA Art Projects
How the WPA helped
African American Artists
to read about how the WPA helped black Americans.
Fair Labor Standards Act
(Federal Wage and Hour Law)
Fair Labor Standards Act
was a measure enacted by the United States Congress in 1938 to eliminate labor conditions injurious to the health and efficiency of workers, and unfair methods of competition based on these conditions. The act prohibited the introduction into interstate commerce of goods produced in violation of its provisions. It provided for a minimum wage of 25 cents an hour, required the payment of overtime at a rate of at least time and one half the regular rate of pay for hours in any work week in excess of 44, and prohibited “oppressive child labor.” A subsequent increase of the minimum wage to 40 cents, and a decrease in the maximum non-overtime hours to 40, was incorporated in the original law. Over the years the act has been amended periodically to raise the minimum wage, reduce the hours that could be worked without overtime pay, and extend the coverage to many more low-income workers. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 also amended the FLSA by prohibiting wage differentials based on sex.
The Fair Labor Standard Act of 1938, As Amended
- US Department of Labor
Important Institutions of the New Deal Era
For more on Unions, see
American Federation of Labor Label
The American Federation of Labor (AFL)
American Federation of Labor (AFL)
is one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States.
is the founding father of the AFL.
Founded by Socialists, but quickly became more conservative in its orientation.
The AFL limited itself to organizing skilled workers - the "aristocracy of labor".
They did not support open immigration and maintained a bias toward Northern Europeans.
Samuel Gompers' papers
- The University of Maryland College Park
for a video explain the ARL from Cornell.
to read briefly about the discriminatory practices of the AFL.
The Congress of Industrial Organizations
Congress of Industrial Organization
is a Federation of Industrial Unions.
Joined with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) to form the present-day AFL-CIO.
This group made great strides organizing semi-skilled and unskilled factory workers in heavy industry during this period.
To better understand the influence of the labor movement in the Great Depression, one must first understand the importance of
- as the first female appointed to the presidential cabinet, Secretary of Labor Perkins was staunch supporter of labor rights include the right to unionize and instituting safer working conditions.
to read about how black workers and the CIO.
The American Communist Party
American Communist Party
was a Marxist-Leninist political party in the US
Formed in 1919, as the Socialist Party of America.
During the Great Depression, they devoted much time to helping the unemployed find jobs within "red" unions.
During the 1930s, The ACP focused on expanding its ranks through an inclusive ideology known as the "Popular Front" mentality.
From the BBC, the
Curious Survival of the American Communist Party
IWW Demonstration, 1914
The Industrial Workers of the World
, or "Wobblies", sought to organize unskilled workers and even those who found themselves out of work.
Founded in 1905 by 43 different groups.
Many founding members were Socialists.
Wanted the workers to control the means of production.
Somewhat successful in the Northwest
Opposed involvement in the WWI
Government investigated and arrested IWW members under the
Sabotage and Espionage Acts
Lost popularity and members due to anti-radical movements.
to read more.
for the Preamble to the IWW Constitution.
reasons why she joined the IWW.
Check out a tremendous list of lesson plans on the history of labor from the
Illinois Labor History Society
for a unit plan on the Paterson Silk Strike of 1913. The students will take on the roles of factory owner, workers, police, and IWW members.
Sample Test Question from New Deal Era
When the U.S. economy enters the contraction phase of the business cycle, a government that bases its actions on the Keynesian model of economic policy would most likely take steps to:
a) increase the purchasing power of consumers
b) ensure that government spending does not exceed current revenue
c) increase the rate of taxation on large firms
d) limit the importation of products that compete with U.S. goods
CORRECT ANSWER IS A
The Sherman Antitrust Act, the Social Security Act, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) are examples of
A. Federal laws designed to protect consumers from unsafe products
B. the Federal Government’s response to changes in the economy
C. Federal laws designed to control spending
D. the Federal Government’s attempts to regulate big business
CORRECT ANSWER IS B
The American Federation of Labor became the first long-lasting, successful labor union in the United States mainly because it
A. refused to participate in strikes against employers
B. concentrated on organizing workers in industries in the South
C. formed its own political party and elected many prolabor public officials
D. fought for the rights of skilled workers
CORRECT ANSWER IS D
for 85 multiple choice questions on the Great Depression and New Deal.
has a quick video overview of Roosevelt's New Deal (as well as some other related New Deal/FDR videos).
PBS provides a teacher's guide and
lesson plans to the 1930s,
which covers the New Deal.
Library of Congress
also has lesson plans and primary sources about the New Deal.
for lesson plans and resources from the Michigan Education Association.
 Assorted Articles. Retrieved April 23, 2007, from
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