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Category Archives:The Great Depression

Picturing the Great Depression and New Deal – The New Deal at Work

The Roosevelt administration saw that creating jobs was crucial to the nation’s economic recovery and vital in restoring national morale. The New Deal’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) poured funding into construction projects and other work relief programs, employing a fifth of the U.S. workforce at its peak. To document and promote these programs, the New […]

Picturing the Great Depression and New Deal – Seeing Hard Times

As our economy reels in recession, the era of the Great Depression and New Deal takes on new immediacy. These days, in news media more often characterized by historical amnesia, pundits frequently invoke the 1930s, mining the past for cautionary tales, moral narratives, or exemplary stories. And many of these accounts are accompanied-in print, on […]

Picturing the Great Depression and the New Deal – Seeing Beyond Hard Times

Many of the images we have seen so far reflect contemporary use of visual images to call viewers to action. Documentary photography often served the purpose of exposé, confronting viewers with images of poverty as an appeal to conscience. Graphics, prints, and posters too were often designed and distributed to encourage change or present the […]

Picturing the Great Depression and New Deal – Labor

The United States labor movement grew rapidly in the 1930s with the enabling legislation of the New Deal. The new Congress of Industrial Organizations (1938) reached out to many workers not served by the more conservative American Federation of Labor, oriented to defending the prerogatives of skilled white male workers. Sit-down strikes were a galvanizing […]

Comic Strips and the Popular Front

More thoughts about visualizing America in the 1930s. . . The history of the Great Depression and New Deal, and especially popular knowledge of the era, has been shaped by remnants of its popular visual media that continue to filter down to the present-from extravagant Busby Berkeley movie musicals and gripping social-drama movies, to the […]

The New Deal and Political Cartoons

In anticipation of our March online forum with Barbara Melosh on visualizing the Great Depression-and in light of our current economic situation-I thought I’d post some observations about how some of the New Deal’s policies were viewed by mainstream editorial cartoonists. If nothing else, the record of 1930s political cartooning offers a useful lesson about […]