The 1929 stock market crash triggered a massive economic downturn that would plague not only the United States but also other nations for many years. The prosperity of the 1920s had not been widely shared, with half of all American families living at or below the poverty line even before the market crash. As banks failed and unemployment soared to 25 percent, the resulting economic devastation plunged countless Americans into poverty, leaving some homeless and many standing in breadlines. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in 1932, he promised a “New Deal.” The programs established by his administration, ranging from the Works Progress Administration to Social Security, would greatly expand the responsibilities and power of the federal government, giving rise to the modern welfare state. This source set allows you to explore the crisis of the Great Depression, as well as the dramatic developments of the New Deal, through photographs, speeches, letters, and oral histories.
Additional resources for research
- America’s Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal, Digital Public Library of America.
- The New Deal, the National Archives and Records Administration.
- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1933-1945, the Library of Congress.