Depression Era and World War II

New Deal Network, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and Institute for Learning Technologies, Teachers College, Columbia University

A database of more than 20,000 items relating to the New Deal is available on this site. A “Document Library” contains more than 900 newspaper and journal articles, speeches, letters, advertisements, reports, and other textual materials, treating a broad array of subjects relevant to the period’s social, cultural, political, and economic history, while placing special emphasis on New Deal relief agencies and issues relating to labor, education, agriculture, the Supreme Court, and African Americans. The “Photo Gallery” includes more than 5,000 images. This site is of great value for teachers, students, and researchers interested in the social history of the New Deal era.

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940, American Memory, Library of Congress

This site features approximately 2,900 life histories from 1936–1940 written by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers’ Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA). Documents represent the work of more than 300 writers from 24 states. The histories, in the form of drafts and revisions, vary from narrative to dialogue, report, or case history. A typical history describes an informant’s family, education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet, and other observations on society and culture. This multifaceted collection provides materials for teaching subjects such as slavery and 19th-century American folk cultures as well as social history of the Great Depression.

FDR Cartoon Archive, Niskayuna High School, New York

A continuing project of high school history and science classes, this site presents thousands of political cartoons concerning the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Selected from the collection at the Hyde Park Presidential Library of Basil O’Conner—Roosevelt’s New York City law partner—the materials are arranged into eight subject categories and often include brief background essays and questions designed to prompt further inquiries. Periods currently emphasized include 1932, “The Road to Pennsylvania Avenue”; 1937, “The Supreme Court”; and 1943, “The War Years.” Well-conceived and executed, the site also gives the texts of Roosevelt’s inaugural addresses and a page of teacher resources and suggested projects.

America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1935–1945, American Memory, Library of Congress

This site features more than 160,000 images taken by government photographers with the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the Office of War Information (OWI) during the New Deal and World War II eras. These images document the ravages of the Great Depression on farmers, scenes of everyday life in small towns and cities, and, in later years, mobilization campaigns for World War II. This site includes approximately 1,600 color photographs.

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, located in Washington, DC, introduces its activities and its important collections on this website. The site presents interactive exhibitions and provides resources for study of the Holocaust and related subjects. The site is composed of five sections: education, research, history, remembrance, and conscience. The history section contains the most online content, including images, essays, and documents on 22 subjects such as anti-Semitism, refugees, pogroms, extermination camps, and resistance; and 13 exhibitions of documents, photographs, audio and video files, activities, and explanatory texts. This is an invaluable site for students and teachers as an introduction to Holocaust-related subjects, and for scholars as a resource for further studies.

Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project, Densho

Two hundred hours of video interviews and approximately 1,000 historic images provide first hand accounts of Japanese-Americans unfairly interned during World War II are available on this website. Material is divided into six sections that cover civil rights and causes of internment. Densho uses the accounts of individuals to explore principles of democracy and to encourage tolerance and justice in situations when citizens are confused with enemies. Additional primary sources include newspaper accounts, government orders and historical photographs. A terminology list and glossary, timeline, web, printed, and video sources provide interested viewers with further avenues for exploring this significant historical event.

A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian

Based on a 1987 Smithsonian exhibition, this site allows visitors to click and drag through sections of text, music, personal accounts, and images that tell stories of the forced—and ultimately determined to be unconstitutional—internment during World War II of 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. Also provides searching capabilities to retrieve images of more than 800 artifacts relating to the lives of those interned. Sections in the narrative cover immigration, removal, internment, loyalty, service, and justice. Provides a 5,000-word audio file of interview excerpts; 6,400-word accompanying text from the 1994 traveling exhibition; annotated timeline; 72-title bibliography; 20 links to related sites; and two classroom activities. Of value to students of Asian American history, the homefront during World War II, and constitutional issues.

Ansel Adams’s Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar, American Memory, Library of Congress

During World War II, the U.S. Government forced more than 100,000 Japanese Americans to leave their homes and businesses, relocating them to interment camps from California to Arkansas. Well-known photographer Ansel Adams documented the lives of Japanese Americans at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California—from portraits to daily life, including agriculture and leisure. This site presents 242 original negatives and 209 photographic prints. Adams donated the collection to the Library of Congress in 1965, writing, “The purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice . . . had overcome the sense of defeat and dispair [sic] by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment.”

Powers of Persuasion: Poster Art from World War II, National Archives and Records Administration

This site examines poster art as a method of persuasion during World War II. Featuring 33 posters and one audio clip—the song “Any Bonds Today?”—the materials are divided into two sections. The first focuses on themes of “patriotism, confidence, and a patriotic outlook.” The second section presents posters that attempted to foster “feelings of suspicion, fear, and even hate,” a distinctly different strategy of propaganda. The materials are contextualized in background essays. Although limited in number, the site is valuable for studying wartime depictions of gender and race, as well as the power of images to further national goals.

After the Day of Infamy: “Man on the Street” Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor, American Memory, Library of Congress

The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The following day, Alan Lomax, head of the Archive of American Folk Song, asked fieldworkers in the Library of Congress Radio Research Project to make documentary recordings in cities and towns around the United States. These fieldworkers collected “man-on-the-street” reactions to the bombing and the declaration of war by the United States. In January and February 1942, fieldworkers collected a second set of recordings, asking people to address their views of the attack and declaration of war directly to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This presentation consists of both sets of recordings, totaling approximately 12 hours, offering the thoughts and opinions of more than 200 Americans “after the day of infamy.” The interviews are available in audio and text and are searchable by keyword, as well as by subject, state, or name of interviewee.

Pictures of World War II, National Archives and Records Administration

This archive offers 202 photographs depicting the activities of Americans during World War II. They represent all aspects of wartime preparation, from military training to combat and support services, as well as the homefront activities of civilians and war agencies. Images include leaders like Franklin D. Roosevelt, General Dwight Eisenhower, and Adolph Hitler, as well as posters from homefront rationing and war bond campaigns, Rosie the Riveter posters, combat photographs of invasions and scouting missions, and images of entertainers visiting the troops.

The Perilous Fight: America’s World War II in Color, PBS

A complement to the four-hour PBS television series, this site presents heretofore-unseen footage of World War II, the first war recorded primarily on color film. It brings the wartime experience of Americans on the battlefield and homefront vividly to life through original color film clips and photographs. The site is divided into four main areas, including Battlefield, Psychology of War, the Home Front, and Social Aspects. Each section allows visitors to navigate through the different subtopics, read excerpts from diaries and letters, view nearly 250 photographs available for the first time, and watch rare color film clips of the period. Visitors will also find an interactive timeline, essays on rediscovering the film footage, and a teaching guide for educators.