The Great Depression
Easier - The 'Great Depression' was a period in United States History when business was poor and many people were out of work.
Harder - The Great Depression began in October 1929, when the stock market in the United States dropped rapidly. Thousands of investors lost large sums of money and many were wiped out, lost everything. The 'crash' led us into the Great Depression. The ensuing period ranked as the longest and worst period of high unemployment and low business activity in modern times. Banks, stores, and factories were closed and left millions of Americans jobless, homeless, and penniless. Many people came to depend on the government or charity to provide them with food.
The Depression became a worldwide business slump of the 1930's that affected almost all nations. It led to a sharp decrease in world trade as each country tried to protect their own industries and products by raising tariffs on imported goods. Some nations changed their leader and their type of government. In Germany, poor economic conditions led to the rise to power of the dictator Adolf Hitler. The Japanese invaded China, developing industries and mines in Manchuria. Japan claimed this economic growth would relieve the depression. This militarism of the Germans and Japanese eventually led to World War II (1939-1945).
In the United States, President Herbert Hoover held office when the Great Depression began. The economy continued to slump almost every month. Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President in 1932. Roosevelt's 'new deal' reforms gave the government more power and helped ease the depression. The Great Depression ended as nations increased their production of war materials at the start of World War II. This increased production provided jobs and put large amounts of money back into circulation.
After first visiting several of the Great Depression websites, complete one or more of the following activities.
Write A Diary Set in the Thirties. Imagine your self as a young person living in the 1930s. Choose whether you live in the city, on a farm, are homeless, living 'on the road', or some other possible situation (Your own Choice). Select a setting location(s). Then write your diary or journal describing what your life might have been like and what your thoughts and feelings would have been. Get lots of ideas from the websites like (1) American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project,1936-1940 http://lcweb2.loc.gov/wpaintro/wpahome.html, (2) Great Depression,http://www2.actden.com/writ_den/h15/direct.htm(
Prepare a Depression Era Meal. Go to http://countrytimerecipes.alphamaids.com/great_depression_recipes.htm. Select a menu for a typical meal during the 'lean' depression years. Then prepare the meal and serve it to your family or friends. Note that you may have to substitute for some items, be creative and as accurate as possible. Take pictures and/or video and share with the class the reaction and what were the ingredients necessary and how the food was made.
Be a WPA Writer. Select an authentic photograph from the Depression Years. You can look at several at the America from the Great Depression to World War II http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/fsowhome.html website. Then using the photograph as your focal point, write a short story about it. Share your photograph and story.
Complete a Great Depression WebQuest. Follow or adapt the procedures found at one of these webQuest websites:
1) Catastrophic Weather Event: Dust Bowl 1936-40 (Grade 10-11)http://edweb.sdsu.edu/t2arp/quest/dustbowl/dust.html
2) Federal Writersí Project and the History of Everyday Life http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/newdeal/fwp.html
3) New Deal Good deal or bad deal? http://zunal.com/tasks.php?w=7558
4) The Great Depression WebQuest http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/fil/pages/webgreatdebe.html
5) The New Deal: helpful or harmful? http://teacherweb.com/WQ/HighSchool/TheNewDeal/apt1.aspx
6)The New Deal Webquest: http://students.ed.uiuc.edu/wheadon2/webquest/home-main/index.html
7) TVA:Electricity for all http://newdeal.feri.org/tva/tva10.htm
Interview People Who Remember the Great Depression. Before starting, visit and explore another 42eXplore segment: Oral History. Look for suggestions and guidelines for conducting interviews. Then find people who remember the Depression years. You might interview members of your extended family or neighbors and friends. Put together a summary of what you found out.
from American Memory, Library of Congress
Here you can read life histories gathered and written by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers' Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects). The
histories describe the informant's family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations.
2) America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-
OWI, 1935-1945 from American Memory, Library of Congress
3) By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943
from American Memories, Library of Congress
Surviving the Dust Bowl from PBS's The American Experience
This site includes a timeline of the disaster, a map of the affected areas, and profiles of people who were involved.
More Dust Bowl Websites:
2) The Dust Bowl http://www.nasm.si.edu/ceps/drylands/dust.html
3) Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection from American Memory, Library of Congress
This great website has lots of information on the 'New Deal', photographs, articles, and lots more.
Websites By Kids For Kids
Great Depression, a Great Disaster (2000 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
This site focuses on the causes of the Great Depression.
Great Depression (Part of a 1996 ThinkQuest Project titled 'Recent History')
The website contains a brief summary of the Depression, plus a few memories added by visitors to the site.
More Websites About the Great Depression
This site examines the years between Black Tuesday and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, through the film, print, radio, and design of the era.
This project describes events in Canada during the Depression in the 1930's.
Great Depression from The WritingDEN (Grade 6-12)
WritingDEN is designed for students seeking to improve their English reading,comprehension, and writing skills. Multimedia presentations are divided into three levels of difficulty: words, sentences and paragraphs. This is the section on the Great Depression. To learn more about the WritingDen, visit http://www2.actden.com/writ_den/.
Riding the Rails from PBS's The American Experience
At the height of the Great Depression, more than a quarter million teenagers were living on the road in America, many crisscrossing the country by illegally hopping freight trains. This site designed to accompany the film of the same name includes program description, a timeline, a teacher's guide, and more.
2) Hobo History http://members.tripod.com/HoboJeepers/hobo.htm
3) Hobo Signs http://www.worldpath.net/~minstrel/hobosign.htm
4)Riding the Rails http://www.erroluys.com/frontpage.htm
Here you can read lyrics to popular Depression-era songs including 'We're In the Money' and 'Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?'
This site includes a photograph of a "Hooverville" in Pittsburgh during the Depression era. You will also find a quote from a guide book of the era about these shantytowns.
2)Hooverville: Oakland, CA, 1937 (Click arrow to see photograph collection)
4) Hooverville: Shantytown of Seattle's Great Depression