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A Biography of America

FDR and the Depression

Professor Brinkley continues his story of twentieth century presidents with a profile of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Brinkley paints a picture of America during the Depression and chronicles some of Roosevelt's programmatic and personal efforts to help the country through its worst economic crisis. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is at FDR's side and, in many respects, ahead of him as the decade unfolds.

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Program 21: FDR and The Depression

Donald L. Miller and Douglas Brinkley.

Introduction

Miller: The 1930s: bread lines, soup kitchens; ordinary lives become desperate lives.
Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Brinkley: Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, the so-called “alphabet soup” of the New Deal; the CCC, TVA, WPA, were a way of bringing some bit of hope. Look at Franklin Roosevelt. He’d have people lift him up out of bed, to be put sometimes in the wheelchair.

Miller: At his side, the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. It was said she went where her husband couldn’t, right to the heart of the people. Did FDR pull America out of the Depression? Today, on A Biography of America, “FDR and The Depression.”

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Hard Times in the Land of Plenty

Brinkley: When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was sworn in as thirty-second President of the United States in 1933, America was deep into the economic depression that ensued from “Black Tuesday,” October 24, 1929, the day the stock market crashed and sent the country into a panic. By 1933, one out of every four American workers was unemployed, twelve million in all. At the time there were no federal welfare programs.

President Herbert Hoover had taken the position that doing nothing was the best policy. This hardly comforted the starving throngs at soup kitchens or reassured the homeless families who packed into Salvation Army shelters. Across the nation, urban centers had turned into desolation rows. Grim shantytowns, bitterly dubbed “Hoovervilles,” sprang up out of old crates and cartons in many cities, while a drought across the Southwest shriveled crops and turned the Great Plains into a wasteland.

In these “Dust Bowl” conditions a single storm could blow away three hundred million tons of topsoil, which is like tossing 3,000 hundred-acre farms into the wind. Farm families took to the highways, many in old jalopies, headed west hoping to sell their labor in the green valleys of California. Millions of men and boys, and women too, crossed the country in freight cars looking for work, living in hobo “jungles,” asking for handouts at backdoors. Auto maker Henry Ford is reported to have remarked, without irony, that the young men and boys crossing the country in search of work were getting a good education.

The Great Depression threw the vast majority of Americans upon hard times, from the farms to the cities, and cast millions of American families into utter desperation. Failure and helplessness dropped like a shroud over the spirit of a starving nation; suicides soared as more and more people gave up hope of finding jobs to feed their children. When millions went hungry, farmers burned their crops or left them to rot in the fields rather than sell them at prices below the cost of production.

Suffering was the word of the day, and the song which best captured the era was Yip Harburg’s “Brother Can You Spare A Dime.” Song lyrics: “They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead. Why should I be standing in line, waiting for bread? Say, don’t you remember I’m your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?”

FDR and the New Deal

The new president was no stranger to suffering, though of a different kind. Franklin Roosevelt was raised in a world of privilege and wealth, and had the patina and optimism of his class. But at the age of thirty-nine he was stricken with polio and left partially paralyzed. For the rest of his life he would continue to be confined to a wheelchair, able to stand only with the aid of heavy metal braces locked around his legs.

For his first inauguration, Roosevelt was determined to lift his nation’s mood, to electrify his countrymen through his own undaunted optimism. Roosevelt: “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” A rain-soaked crowd at the Capitol as well as some sixty million radio listeners at home, saw that they had a new champion in the White House. And that champion was a contradiction in quite a few terms: an aristocratic Democrat who not only sympathized with the downtrodden but meant to put the full force of his executive powers to smashing the grasp of economic despair.

In this very first speech he made as President, Roosevelt made good on his campaign pledge of offering Americans a “New Deal,” his collective remedy for the Great Depression. The deal consisted of a series of bold economic experiments his administration would launch to prove that both American democracy and its kind of capitalism were alive and well, and better than any other option. At its core the New Deal would funnel federal money to the relief victims of the Depression.

FDR proved a genius at bolstering the confidence of the American people. Over the next eight years his administration rolled out a string of new programs. The federal government became a virtual alphabet soup: The WPA, CCC, TVA, NRA, FSA, AAA, among many others.

Roosevelt’s New Deal programs were most remarkable for their number and their commitment to making the federal government an active instrument in the pursuit of social justice. With the help of congressional Democrats and progressive Republicans, FDR rescued the banking system with deposit insurance; regulated America’s stock exchanges back to stability; abandoned the gold standard to raise wages and prices; shored up the nation’s faltering rail system; sent five hundred million dollars in direct relief to the states; saved a fifth of all American homes from foreclosure, and did the same for thousands of farms by refinancing their mortgages.

Roosevelt sold his New Deal program through the new science of public relations. He held an unprecedented number of press conferences, hired the first White House press secretary, and broadcast his empathy with the country’s suffering into every living room through “fireside chats” on radio. The PR-minded Washington bureau chief of CBS Radio first suggested the term “fireside chat,” but it was Roosevelt himself who targeted the audience, writing, “I tried to picture a mason at work on a new building, a girl behind a counter, and a farmer in his field.”

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Dorothea Lange

To penetrate the consciousness of Americans even further, Roosevelt and a brigade of bright young artists and historians recorded the crisis of the day for posterity. The Historical Section of the Resettlement Administration, one of the New Deal programs created to help American farmers, became a locus for this effort. It was home to dozens of brilliant photographers, perhaps none more brilliant than Dorothea Lange.

Lange had taken up photography as a high school girl in New Jersey. She had a hard childhood, her father had deserted her family and a bout of polio had left her slightly lame. Tenacious and sensitive, Lange was a true artist. Her “Migrant Mother,” shot in 1936 in a squalid migrant camp in Nipoma, California, is a heart wrenching image.

Lange recalled the moment in which she made the photograph. “I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother as if drawn by a magnet. She told me she was thirty-two. They had been living on frozen vegetables and birds that the children had killed. She had just sold the tires from the car to buy food.”

Lange took five exposures. She selected this one to be printed. It’s a classic American image; one, however, more familiar to us today than it was to Americans in the 1930s.

Many newspapers and magazines refused to print photographs generated under New Deal programs. Their reasons weren’t entirely surprising. Publishers felt that government-funded photographers took work from those paid, usually underpaid, on their staff. And they weren’t inclined to provide a forum for what they thought was propaganda for New Deal programs.

Roosevelt’s New Deal programs predictably came under attack from many quarters. In response to the charge that New Deal programs were “boondoggles”, government make-work projects to keep the idle busy, FDR proclaimed in 1936, “If we can boondoggle ourselves out of this depression, that word is going to be enshrined in the hearts of American people for years to come.” By the end of 1934, more than twenty million Americans, one out of every six citizens, were receiving some form of public assistance.

The WPA, the AAA, and the CCC

In 1935, Congress voted the then-staggering sum of some five billion dollars for work relief, most of which went into public projects such as the construction of new airports, hospitals and schools under the Works Progress Administration. Part of the WPA’s mandate was to put the expertise of unemployed white-collar workers to work as well; another was to support the nation’s arts by hiring its starving artists. The government did this by creating Federal Art, Music, and Writers’ Projects as well as a Federal Theatre, all under the WPA. These agencies put thousands of creative Americans to work, painting public murals, composing and performing new music, and writing everything from new plays to the still-treasured WPA travel guides to every state.

For America’s farmers, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the AAA, established during Roosevelt’s vigorous first hundred days in office, rescued even more farms by paying farmers not to produce crops beyond certain quotas. Given how many Americans were going hungry at the time, these quotas sparked an angry response from the public. But the AAA worked. Three years after its creation, America’s farmers were better off than before by half.

Among the more dramatic New Deal measures was the Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC, which was designed to put jobless young men to work in the national forests and on federal conservation and road construction projects. The resulting CCC work camps were run by the U.S. Army, which imposed strict discipline on the corps’ recruits: single men between the ages of 18 and 25 who were healthy, unemployed, and without financial resources. “CCC boys,” as they were called, received thirty dollars a month in addition to room, board, and health care, which in most cases left the boys as much as twenty-five dollars to send home to their impoverished families every month.

Armed with pickaxes, shovels, saws and their own muscles, the CCC boys sowed grass, planted trees, fought forest fires, cut hiking trails, and built everything from bridges to public swimming pools. At its zenith in September 1935, the CCC employed half a million men in 2,514 work camps. In the nine years it existed, the CCC helped 2.9 million youngsters learn about conservation as well as the skills to practice it.

Eleanor Roosevelt

The New Deal itself could not have been engineered without the concerted efforts of the President’s enthusiastic cadre of handpicked advisers. For Franklin Roosevelt was by no means alone in his effort to lead 1930s America out of its Great Depression. In fact, he wasn’t even the only Roosevelt hard at the task: his wife (and distant cousin) Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, was right alongside to serve as the nation’s beacon of compassion. As First Lady, her caring insights and dedication to the plight of the poor helped put a human face on the New Deal bureaucracy.

What’s more, she was a civil rights warrior from the start. When the Daughters of the American Revolution barred the great African American contralto Marian Anderson from singing at their Constitution Hall in Washington, Eleanor Roosevelt instantly quit the organization. A few months later she drove her point home by sponsoring Anderson’s Easter Sunday concert at the Lincoln Memorial, which drew a crowd a hundred thousand strong, and became a landmark of the U.S. Civil Rights movement. Anderson: “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty. Of thee we sing.”

Rexford Tugwell, one of FDR’s best and brightest New Dealers, recalled numerous occasions on which Eleanor Roosevelt changed U.S. government policy simply by saying, “Franklin, surely you will not.” As historian Doris Kearns Goodwin has noted, Franklin Roosevelt thought in terms of what could be done; Eleanor Roosevelt focused on what should be done. Sadly, some were suspect of her liberal views; others mocked her piety and her protruding teeth. But no amount of name-calling broke her open-hearted and open-minded spirit.

All too many have written Eleanor Roosevelt off as just another well-intentioned society idealist doomed to frustration by reality. In fact, she was an utter pragmatist, one who understood and refused to shy from stark truths. One of those truths was that the Great Depression hit America’s black population the hardest.

The depression forced legions of African Americans to migrate from impoverished rural areas in the South to the cities of the North. As poet Langston Hughes described it, “Everybody in America was looking for work, everybody was moving from one place to another in search of a job.” The vast majority of these displaced blacks failed to find employment in the so-called Promised Land; worse, they faced racism for trying to “take” scarce jobs “away from Northern whites.”

This new racial hatred had boiled over in 1931 in the controversial Scottsboro case, in which nine young black men were convicted on questionable evidence of having raped two white women on a freight train in Alabama. Eight of the nine received the death sentence. The Scottsboro case turned a spotlight on the horror of American racism. In 1937, after six years of appeals and other legal maneuvers, five of the defendants were retried and again found guilty, although the charges against the remaining four were dismissed. In the end, none of the Scottsboro defendants was executed.

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The Roosevelt Critics

Not everybody revered the Roosevelts. FDR may have been saving American capitalism, but the East Coast elite responded to his efforts with disgust and the accusation that he was a traitor to his class. Some critics went so far as to claim that FDR’s polio was really a venereal disease and that his wife was a Bolshevik, with her bleeding heart set on turning America into a Marxist “workers’ paradise.”

No less than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce assembled its troops in Washington in 1935 to denounce the New Deal as an attempt to “Sovietize America.” The demagogue Huey Long of Louisiana, a renegade Democrat whose “share the wealth” platform claimed to radically redistribute income, stepped forward to challenge FDR for the White House. At the same time, Detroit-based Catholic priest Charles Edward Coughlin, a pro-fascist anti-Semite, denounced the President with such sustained vehemence that his rantings began to have a real impact on the millions of Americans who listened to his radio program. Coughlin: “God hates a hypocrite.”

But however shrill their critics became, most Americans stayed firmly behind the Roosevelts. In 1936, FDR easily won reelection, again in 1940, and yet again in 1944. And he remains the only president in U.S. history to win four consecutive terms.

Labor Strikes

Roosevelt’s lasting popularity in office looks less remarkable in retrospect. The perspective of history makes it easier to see the complexity of his strategies for dealing with the many troubles of his time. Consider, for example, how FDR handled the resurgence of the moribund U.S. labor movement.

By the mid-1930s, the fiery United Mine Worker chief John L. Lewis had taken charge of a new labor union, the CIO, the Congress of Industrial Organizations. It was a huge and not yet powerful union, an association of workers from many different industries and services. Under his leadership, CIO-affiliated automobile workers tried a new tactic: the “sit-down strike,” in which employees simply refused to leave their workplaces until they were granted collective bargaining rights.

You have to imagine the risk: thousands of men putting their hard won jobs on the line in the middle of the Depression to take a stand for their rights as workers. It worked. The idea caught fire and spread throughout 1936. That December, a massive sit-down strike was staged at a body plant in Flint, Michigan in response to General Motors’ heartless firing of two brothers.

For forty days, two thousand striking workers engaged in outright urban warfare, turning fire hoses on the police who attacked them with tear gas. Eventually the police were driven back, but only after thirteen workers were seriously injured. A nervous Michigan Governor Frank Murphy had to call in the National Guard to quell the siege.

It didn’t end there: soon the strike spread to other General Motors factories. In the end, the strikers’ intransigence paid off: they agreed to a six-month settlement and went back to work. But the die was cast. Not just General Motors, but all the automotive giants in Detroit were forced to accept that from then on, they would have to deal with the powerful CIO rather than the powerless individuals who comprised it.

Before the GM showdown in 1936, there had been 48 sit-down strikes in various U.S. industries; in 1937 there were ten times that. Whether the strikes were orchestrated by garbage haulers in Connecticut, gravediggers in New Jersey, or broom makers in Colorado, successful collective actions showed workers the power in unity, as well as that deals could be made by simply refusing to budge. The risks, of course, could be just as high. On Memorial Day, 1937, for example, a strike at the Republic Steel plant in Chicago ended with police firing upon a mass picket line and killing ten of the striking workers, whom autopsies showed had been shot in the back as they tried to run away.

Yet Franklin Roosevelt managed to turn even this labor unrest to the good of his troubled nation. He created new labor-relations boards to mediate between industries and their discontented workers. More importantly, he left little doubt whose side he was on, championing egalitarian new labor policies designed to improve the lot of the average working American. Most important, however, FDR instituted the most sweeping government program in U.S. history, before or since, specifically to allay American workers’ fears for their economic futures.

The Social Security Act

The source of this new sense of security was the groundbreaking Social Security Act, passed by Congress in August 1935. Roosevelt: “Fifteen millions of our citizens will reap direct benefits through unemployment compensation, through old age pensions, and through increased services for the protection of children and the prevention of ill health.” Although hardly a new idea, as progressives had spoken of such a federal retirement program for decades, the Social Security system itself was revolutionary.

The United States had been built on individualism and the volunteer spirit; except for war veterans, the federal government had never provided old-age pensions, unemployment compensation, health insurance, or public assistance of any other kind. The Great Depression changed that. Under the new Social Security Act, nearly all American employees and their employers were obliged to pay a payroll tax. The revenues would go into a reserve fund.

Beginning in 1939, workers who retired at age 65 would receive monthly disbursements between ten and eighty-five dollars from this fund depending on their earlier contributions to it. Employees would also pay a new unemployment tax to provide benefits to those out of work through no fault of their own. Social Security squared with America’s historical individualism because it was neither structured as a welfare program nor sold to the public as such. Instead, it was presented as a form of insurance plan that would pay benefits not according to need but based on the contributions a worker had paid into it.

As Roosevelt explained to Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins in 1934, in order to work, Social Security had to be “very simple, a bureaucratic plan that would ensure that everybody in the United States would be covered.” The system would cover every American from cradle to grave, a concept that astounded the public. This disarmed opponents. And Social Security would prove the most significant social welfare program in American history. Franklin Roosevelt called it the New Deal’s “supreme achievement.”

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The End Of The New Deal

The New Deal essentially ended with the midterm elections of 1938, when Roosevelt’s attempt to purge his Democratic party of conservatives backfired. The Republicans bounced back, retaking six Senate and 81 House seats, along with the governorships of five states considered safely Democratic. The shift gave the Republicans enough clout to join with their anti-New Deal Democratic colleagues to block legislation emanating from the White House; and they did just that, burying the New Deal under a series of hostile congressional votes.

The deal had been good for America while it lasted. The net of social and economic programs his administration created staked Roosevelt’s claim to salvaging American capitalism and reinvigorating the nation’s faith in democracy. After all, the President’s massive reform effort had redefined the relationship between the United States and its citizens by giving Americans unheard-of federal guarantees, both economic and social.

The New Deal did not pull America out of the Great Depression, World War II would take care of that, but FDR’s bold programs certainly went a long way toward lifting the nation out of its deepest economic doldrums. Its permanent institutional reforms gave Americans a greater sense of economic security and social justice. In the end, both Roosevelts, Franklin and Eleanor, convinced their countrymen that they really did have nothing to fear but fear itself, at least at home. For there was indeed something to fear across the Atlantic.

By early 1939 the winds of war were lashing the European continent from Berlin. To the west, unbeknownst to the Roosevelt administration, Imperial Japan was preparing for a secret military attack on Hawaii. President Roosevelt, and the American people he led, would be called upon to fight yet another World War.

Image as History: Depression Era Photography

This image of a steer skull seems straightforward, but it generated enormous controversy at the time. Can you imagine why?

Title: The bleached skull of a steer on the dry sun-baked earth of the South Dakota Badlands Artist: Arthur Rothstein Date: May, 1936

  1. Arthur Rothstein came upon this bleached steer skull and moved it around, taking five different pictures.
  2. By repositioning the skull, Rothstein was able to create a life-like shadow that deepens the tragic scene.

  3. The parched earth of the South Dakota Badlands suggests a lush American landscape gone awry, but Rothstein relocated the skull onto this patch of caked dirt.

FSA Photography

Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother was one of the most famous photographs taken during the Depression. Working for the government, she and a cadre of other photographers sought to document the hardships under which Americans were suffering. In 1937, the Resettlement Administration became the Farm Security Administration. Under the directorship of Roy Stryker, the FSA photography unit employed a number of the finest photographers in America, including Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Carl Mydans, Ben Shahn, and Arthur Rothstein. The group created over 250,000 images and distributed them for widest possible circulation in national magazines, local newspapers, museum exhibitions, and books.

The work of the FSA photographers embodied a tension between the desire to document what was taking place and the desire to influence what was being done. The photographers walked a fine line between objective neutrality and subjective engagement. Rothstein thought of his pictures as both documents and art. A photographer frames, lights, and crops an image to achieve a desired effect, but that, he believed, did not make it a fiction.

The relationship between recording and shaping, inherent in all image-making, is a complicated one, and some commentators felt the FSA photographers went too far. “What you’ve got are not photographers,” commented one critic. “They’re a bunch of sociologists with cameras.” Others, however, defended the work as “pure record, not propaganda.”

Rothstein’s skull picture quickly became part of a larger political controversy. Opponents of Roosevelt’s New Deal policies in the Republican Dakotas seized upon it as evidence of Democratic manipulation of the truth. A Fargo newspaper denounced the picture as “phony.” One writer condemned the entire FSA project as a “ghastly fake, based on fake ideas . . . and promoted by fake methods similar to those used by ordinary confidence men.”

Questions to Ponder

Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother was one of the most famous photographs taken during the Depression. Working for the government, she and a cadre of other photographers sought to document the hardships under which Americans were suffering. In 1937, the Resettlement Administration became the Farm Security Administration. Under the directorship of Roy Stryker, the FSA photography unit employed a number of the finest photographers in America, including Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Carl Mydans, Ben Shahn, and Arthur Rothstein. The group created over 250,000 images and distributed them for widest possible circulation in national magazines, local newspapers, museum exhibitions, and books.

1. In what ways does a photograph seem more objective and neutral than other forms of visual representation?

2. What are the similarities and what are the differences between a documentary photographer and an historian?

Bibliography

Curtis, James. Mind’s Eye/Mind’s Truth: FSA Photography Reconsidered. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989.

Daniel, Pete, et al. Official Images: New Deal Photography. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987.

Fleischhauer, Carl and Beverly Brannan, eds. Documenting America, 1935-1943. Berkeley: University of California Press in association with the Library of Congress, 1988.

Guimond, James. American Photography and the American Dream. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Miller, Donald L. New American Radicalism: Non-Marxian Radicalism in the 1930s. New York: Kennikat Press, 1979.

Stott, William. Documentary Expression and Thirties America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.

Webography

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt 
http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/fr32.html
A portrait and a biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Character Above All – Franklin D. Roosevelt Essay 
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/character/essays/roosevelt.html
An account of the Franklin D. Roosevelt presidency with related links.

USA: Index on Franklin Delano Roosevelt 
http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/P/fr32/
Provides links to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Inaugural Addresses, State of the Union Addresses, etc.

The American Experience – Presidents – Featured Presidents 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/32_f_roosevelt/index.html
Provides links to the different stages of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s career.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt 
http://www.americanpresident.org/history/franklindelanoroosevelt/
A Franklin D. Roosevelt site providing links to information on the various stages of his life and career. Includes information for further readings, web resources and more.

 


 

Roosevelt & the New Deal

New Deal Network 
http://newdeal.feri.org/
A New Deal site with many related links. Includes links to Roosevelt’s biography, photos, speeches, articles etc.

Fireside Chats of Franklin D. Roosevelt 
http://www.mhric.org/fdr/fdr.html
Provides links to the text of the Fireside Chats of Franklin Roosevelt including his outline of the New Deal program.

New Deal Cultural Programs 
http://www.wwcd.org/policy/US/newdeal.html
Provides links to information about the various cultural programs initiated by the New Deal as well as an introduction and an overview.

 


 

Roosevelt Inaugural Speech

First Inaugural Address of Franklin D. Roosevelt 
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/presiden/inaug/froos1.htm
The text of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address with links to Roosevelt papers and other presidential inaugural speeches.

FDR First Inaugural 
http://www.hpol.org/fdr/inaug/
The text of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address. Provides a link to the speech in RealAudio.

Franklin D. Roosevelt – First Inaugural Address – 1933 
http://www.nationalcenter.org/FRooseveltFirstInaugural.html
The text of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first Inaugural Address

 


 

“Brother Can You Spare A Dime?”

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? 
http://csivc.csi.cuny.edu/history/files/lavender/cherries.html
The lyrics of the song, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

Songs of the Great Depression 
http://csivc.csi.cuny.edu/history/files/lavender/cherries.html
The lyrics to three songs from the Great Depression including “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” Includes photos of Bing Crosby and other singers.

 


 

Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange 
http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/wcf/wcf0013.html
A brief profile of Lange and her work with links to some of her photos.

Dorothea Lange Collections – Oakland Museum of California 
http://www.museumca.org/collection/dorothea-lange-archive
A biography of Lange and a link to a slide show of her work.

Dorothea Lange 
http://metalab.unc.edu/channel/Lange.html
A profile of Dorothea Lange and her work.

 


 

Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother

Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” Photographs in the Farm Security Administration Collection: An Overview 
http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/128_migm.html
A brief background on Dorothea Lange’s photography. Includes the Migrant Motherseries and Lange’s own account of the photographs.

Migrant Mother 
http://new.artsmia.org/stories/art-inspires-john-himle/
The Migrant Mother photo and related links.

Dorothea Lange Photographs 
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG97/fsa/lang.html
The Migrant Mother sequence with a brief discussion.

 


 

Eleanor Roosevelt

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Roosevelt 
http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/firstladies/ar32.html
A biography of Eleanor Roosevelt.

The American Experience | Eleanor Roosevelt 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/eleanor/
An Eleanor Roosevelt site that includes a timeline, a biography with photos, maps, etc.

The First Lady: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt 
http://www.americanpresident.org/history/franklindelanoroosevelt/firstlady/
A biography and a photo of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Guide Introduction: The Papers of Eleanor Roosevelt, 1933-1945 
http://www.lexis-nexis.com/cispubs/guides/womens_studies/eroos.htm
A biographical essay on Eleanor Roosevelt with the quote, “Franklin, surely you will note…”

 


 

Marian Anderson

Online NewsHour: Remembering Marian Anderson — February 26, 
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/remember-jan-june97-anderson_02-26a/
A profile of Marian Anderson, with biographical information.

Marian Anderson 
http://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/index.cfm?fuseaction=showIndividual&entity_id=3688&source_type=A
A biography and a photo of Marian Anderson.

 


 

Langston Hughes

The Academy of American Poets – Poetry Exhibits – Langston Hughes 
http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/83
A biography of Langston Hughes with a photo and links to some of his works.

 


 

Huey Long

Brief History: Huey Long 
http://www.ssa.gov/history/hlong1.html
A portrait and a biography of Huey Long. Provides links to excerpts from his autobiographies, speeches pertaining to his “share the wealth” platform, etc.

 


 

Father Coughlin

Father Charles E. Coughlin 
http://www.ssa.gov/history/cough.html
A photo and a profile of Father Coughlin, with links to a text sample and an audio clip sample of Coughlin’s Broadcasts from 1934-35.

 


 

Flint Sit-Down Strike

Remembering the Flint Sit-Down Strike 1936-1937 
http://www.historicalvoices.org/flint/
Information about the Flint sit-down strike with audio clips, an interactive map, and a slideshow.

The Great Flint Sitdown 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_Sit-Down_Strike
An account of the sit-down strike with photos.

Series Directory

A Biography of America

Credits

Produced by WGBH Boston in cooperation with the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration, and with the assistance of Instructional Resources Corporation. 2000.
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  • ISBN: 1-57680-202-7

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