Print ISBN: 978-1-63700-079-3
# of Pages: 600
# of Volumes: 2
Print List Price: $295
e-ISBN: 978-1-63700-080-9
eBook User Price: $295
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Defining Documents in American History: The Great Depression (1929-1941)

Editor: Michael Shally-Jensen, Ph.D.
February 2022

These volumes explore the severe economic depression that took place mostly in the 1930s in the United States. Beginning with a major fall in stock prices, the Great Depression had devastating effects for both rich and poor. Areas dependent on primary sector industries, such as mining and logging were hard hit. Farming communities and rural areas suffered as crop prices plummeted. Effects of the Great Depression continued to be felt up until World War II. These volumes explore documents that help to define events leading to the Great Depression, demonstrate its effects, and show the thinking of leaders and politicians at that time.

Defining Documents in American History: The Great Depression offers in-depth analysis of 59 primary source documents that help define the events leading to the Great Depression, its effects on the economy, and show the thinking of leaders and politicians at that time. These include book excerpts, speeches, court rulings, legal texts, legislative acts, essays, newspaper and magazine articles, and interviews. The volumes of this set focus on a variety of topics in relation to the Great Depression, including what caused it, how it affected people during, and the repercussions of it after. These documents, and more, provide an overview of the history and contemporary issues surrounding the Great Depression in the past and the present.

The material is organized into seven sections, and each section begins with a brief introduc­tion that examines the politics and policies of the United States through a variety of primary source documents.

  • Banks and Bankers in the Spotlight includes documents that explore the stock market crash and the failure of banks, such as President Hoover’s Response to the Stock Market Crash and FDR’s Fireside Chat on the Banking Crisis.
  • Depression and Desperation includes documents on Franklin Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address, a Letter Regarding the Needs of Puerto Ricans in New York, and a Letter from a Dust Bowl Survivor.
  • New Deal Solutions begins with President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat Outlining the New Deal and is followed by such important documents as FDR on Social Security, A New Deal for American Indians, and Memories of the Flint Sit-Down Strike.
  • Voices of Dissent pulls from documents such as an article from Upton Sinclair on Ending Poverty in California, the “Share Our Wealth” Address, and John P. Davis’ essay, “A Black Inventory of the New Deal.”
  • Politics and Renewal provides such important documents as Alf Landon’s Acceptance Speech as the Republican Nominee for President, FDR’s Second Inaugural Address, and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Social and Cultural Developments includes a speech Honoring Jesse Owens, World of Tomorrow: 1939 World’s Fair Essay by E.B. White, and the National Archives Act.
  • Changing Ground highlights more resources, such as a Telegram from Thirty-Six American Writers to President Roosevelt concerning Nazi Germany and Albert Einstein’s Letter to President Roosevelt regarding Developments in Nuclear Science.

Each Historical Document is supported by a critical essay, written by historians and teachers, that includes a Summary Overview, Defining Moment, About the Author, Document Analysis, and Essential Themes. An important feature of each essay is a close reading of the primary source that develops broader themes, such as the author’s rhetorical purpose, social or class position, point of view, and other relevant issues. Each essay also includes a Bibliography and Additional Reading section that provides suggestions for further readings and research.

Appendixes in this book include:

  • Chronological List which arranges all documents by date;
  • Web Resources, an annotated list of websites that offer valuable supplemental resources;
  • Bibliography lists of helpful articles and books for further study

About the Series

The Defining Documents series provides in-depth commentary and analysis on the most important primary source documents in the United States and the world. The Defining Documents series is perfect for students, those researching a particular era, or anyone interested in world history. Visit for more information about additional titles in this series.

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