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  • Great Depression
100,000,000 Guinea Pigs : The Dangers of Consumption
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In 1927, responding to the seemingly overpowering claims of advertisers and mass marketers, engineer Frederick Schlink and economist Stuart Chase published Your Money's Worth, which argued for an "extension of the principle of buying goods according to impartial scientific tests rather than according to the fanfare and triumphs of higher salesmanship." Your Money's Worth became an instant best-seller, and the authors organized Consumers' Research, a testing bureau that provided information and published product tests in a new magazine, Consumers' Research Bulletin. The 1929 stock market crash heightened suspicion of consumer capitalism, and the magazine had 42,000 subscribers by 1932. In 1933, Schlink and Arthur Kallet (executive secretary of Consumers' Research) published 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs: Dangers in Everyday Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics. The book struck a responsive chord in depression-era America--it went through thirteen printings in its first six months and became one of the best-selling books of the decade. The book's first chapter ("The Great American Guinea Pig"), gave a flavor of their vigorous arguments.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
"80 Rounds in Our Pants Pockets": Orville Quick Remembers Pearl Harbor
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The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, stunned virtually everyone in the U.S. military: Japan's carrier-launched bombers found Pearl Harbor totally unprepared. In this 1991 interview, conducted by John Terreo for the Montana Historical Society, serviceman Orville Quick, who was assigned to build airfields and was very near Pearl Harbor on December 6, 1941, remembers the attack. He also provided a vivid, and humorous, account of the chaos from a soldier's point of view.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
Against Isolationism: James F. Byrnes Refutes Lindbergh
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The interwar peace movement was arguably the largest mass movement of the 1920s and 1930s, a mobilization often overlooked in the wake of the broad popular consensus that ultimately supported the U.S. involvement in World War II. The destruction wrought in World War I (known in the 1920s and 1930s as the "Great War") and the cynical nationalist politics of the Versailles Treaty had left Americans disillusioned with the Wilsonian crusade to save the world for democracy. Senate investigations of war profiteering and shady dealings in the World War I munitions industry both expressed and deepened widespread skepticism about wars of ideals. Charles Lindbergh, popular hero of American aviation, had been speaking in support of American neutrality for some time, and allies of FDR's interventionist foreign policy sought to counter the arguments of the famous aviator. In a May 19, 1940, radio speech, Senator James F. Byrnes of South Carolina refuted Lindbergh's position, specifically rebutting a speech Lindbergh had given on military spending.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
"Aluminum for Defense": Rationing at Home during World War II
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The productive capacity of the United States during World War II surpassed all expectations. To boost that production and maintain supply levels for troops abroad, Americans at home were asked to conserve materials and to accept ration coupons or stamps that limited the purchase of certain products. Gasoline, rubber, sugar, butter, and some kinds of cloth were among the many items rationed. American responses to rationing varied from cheerful compliance to resigned grumbling to instances of black market subversion and profiteering. Government-sponsored posters, ads, radio shows, and pamphlet campaigns urged Americans to contribute to scrap drives and accept rationing without complaint. "Aluminum for Defense," a comic program from New York's radio station WOR in 1941, conveyed some of the tone of these campaigns. This excerpt, complete with clashing pots and pans, moved from Times Square to Harlem to the tony Stork Club.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
America in Depression and War, Spring 2012
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This course focuses on the Great Depression and World War II and how they led to a major reordering of American politics and society. We will examine how ordinary people experienced these crises and how those experiences changed their outlook on politics and the world around them.

Subject:
Fine Arts
U.S. History
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
M.I.T.
Provider Set:
M.I.T. OpenCourseWare
Author:
Meg Jacobs
Date Added:
01/01/2012
"An American soldier of the Antitank Co., 34th Regiment who was killed by mortar fire."
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Combatants in World War II possessed far greater firepower than ever before. Consequently, the incidence of death and mutilation in units actually fighting the enemy was extremely high, sometimes one in three. World War II was the first war in which combat deaths actually outnumbered fatalities from disease or accident. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's wartime government carefully controlled what information reached the American public from the battle fronts. Until September, 1943, government censors blocked the publication of all photographs showing dead American soldiers. After that, censors continued to withhold many pictures such as this photograph taken on Leyte Island in the Philippines on October 31, 1944that did not, even in death, conform to the heroic image of the American fighting man.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
Anacostia flats and flames.
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The Bonus March was one of several grassroots movements of the unemployed during the Great Depression that galvanized thousands of men and women and helped focus attention on the role of the federal government in alleviating economic hardship. Twenty thousand World War I veterans marched to Washington to demand the immediate release of promised cash bonuses and set up camp until their demands were met. With President Herbert Hoover's authorization, federal troops, armed with tanks and cavalry, attacked the homeless veterans and burned their encampment. When images like this photograph, which shows the Bonus Marchers' shantytown burning down in sight of the Capitol on the afternoon of July 28, 1932, reached the public, Hoover's image was permanently tarnished.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
"Art Within Reach": Federal Art Project Community Art Centers
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New Deal arts projects were guided by two novel assumptions: artists were workers and art was cultural labor worthy of government support. That commitment was demonstrated most dramatically in the Federal Art Project (FAP), a relief program for depression-era artists. Some painters and sculptors continued working in their studios with the assistance of relief checks and the occasional supervision of WPA administrators--their work was placed in libraries, schools, and other public buildings. FAP also sponsored hundreds of murals and sculptures designed for municipal buildings and public spaces. FAP's Community Art Centers worked to create new audiences for art by bringing art education and exhibitions to neighborhoods and communities with little access to galleries and museums. These essays by FAP employees Thaddeus Clapp and Lawrence A. Jones lauded programs that brought "art within reach" for people in Massachusetts and affirmed the democratic possibilities of a project that reached across class and racial lines in New Orleans.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
The Big Strike : A Journalist Describes the 1934 San Francisco Strike
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On May 9, 1934, International Labor Association (ILA) leaders called a strike of all dockworkers on the West Coast who were joined a few days later by seamen and teamsters, effectively stopping all shipping from San Diego to Seattle. San Francisco would become the scene of the strike's most dramatic and widely known incidents, aptly described in one headline as "War in San Francisco!" On Bloody Thursday, July 5, 1934, two strikers were killed by the San Francisco police. A mass funeral march of tens of thousands of strikers and sympathizers four days later and the general strike that followed effectively shut down both San Francisco and Oakland (across the bay). Mike Quin, a self-described "rank-and-file journalist," offered a sympathetic picture of the striking workers actions in The Big Strike, a collection of his published articles. Here, Quin described the events leading up to Bloody Thursday, and what happened in its aftermath.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
"A Bill of Rights for the Indians": John Collier Envisions an Indian New Deal
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John Collier's appointment as Commissioner of Indian Affairs by Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 marked a radical reversal--in intention if not always in effect--in U.S. government policies toward American Indians that dated back to the 1887 Dawes Act. An idealistic social worker, Collier first encountered Indian culture when he visited Taos, New Mexico, in 1920, and found among the Pueblos there what he called a "Red Atlantis"--a model of living that integrated the needs of the individual with the group and that maintained traditional values. Although Collier could not win congressional backing for his most radical proposals, the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 dramatically changed policy by allowing tribal self-government and consolidating individual land allotments back into tribal hands. Collier set out his vision for what became known as the "Indian New Deal" in this 1934 article from the Literary Digest. Although he was sympathetic to Indians, he depicted them in a stereotypical manner.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
The Bum as Con Artist: An Undercover Account of the Great Depression
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Middle-class observers reacted to hoboes and tramps of the Great Depression with an array of responses, viewing them with suspicion, empathy, concern, fear, sometimes even a twinge of envy. For some, stolidly holding onto traditional values of work and success, the "bum" was suspect, potentially a con artist. Tom Kromer's "Pity the Poor Panhandler: $2 An Hour Is All He Gets" exemplified this stance, urging readers to resist the appeals of panhandlers and refer them to relief agencies, where professionals could help the deserving and get rid of the rest. Ironically, the young journalist who went undercover to write this piece would find himself unemployed and on the road within a year of the publication of his condescending article.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
Cartoonists on the Picket Line: The Walt Disney Studio Strike
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A wave of strikes in 1941 affected at least one West Coast industry previously untouched by the labor movement. By the 1930s, animation had become a significant sector of the Hollywood film industry, its production based on factorylike techniques of mass production. World War II deprived Walt Disney of his lucrative foreign market at just the moment when he needed it most; neither Pinocchio nor Fantasia had earned revenues to cover their high production costs and, with the expensive relocation of his studio to Burbank, Disney faced a $4.5 million debt. Relations with his employees worsened as Disney cut wages, laid off staff, and denied long-deferred bonuses. Answering writer Dorothy Parker's admonition "Don't let Mickey Mouse become a rat," other unions came to the support of the Disney strikers. The business agent of the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators, and Paperhangers, Herb Sorrell, testified before a congressional subcommittee that the strikers were bolstered by sympathizers in the other animation studios, principally Warner Brothers' Schlesinger studio.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
"Clear Everything with Sidney": Hillman's Conservative Critics Say It with Limericks
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Labor leader Sidney Hillman emerged as a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, in part because of his role as a leader of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), but even more because of his ties to President Franklin Roosevelt and other New Dealers. In 1944 Republican presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey charged that the CIO and Hillman's Political Action Committee (PAC) dominated Roosevelt. Part of the evidence for this (unfounded) charge was the rumor--given some credibility by its publication in the New York Times --that Roosevelt had told party leaders to "Clear it with Sidney" before selecting a vice-presidential candidate in 1944. Particularly rabid on the subject were the newspapers owned by the anti-New Dealer William Randolph Hearst. Hearst's New York Journal-American even sponsored a "Sidney Limerick Contest." These winning entries gave a flavor of the sharp antagonism and prejudices that the nation's most politically influential labor leader aroused.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
The Column That Launched a Union
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The National Industrial Recovery Act, passed in 1933, was a New Deal program intended to strengthen the economy by regulating production and prices; it also included a provision protecting the right of workers to form unions. One odd place in which a union drive emerged was among newspaper reporters, a group that had long resisted unionization efforts, in part because of their status as "professional" and "white-collar" workers. Newspaper columnist Heywood Broun was a sportswriter who gradually turned to writing book reviews and personal essays; in the 1930s Broun became a member of the Socialist Party and ran unsuccessfully for Congress. On August 7, 1933, Broun published this famous column calling--with some ambivalence--for a journalists' union. The combination of Broun's column, the intransigence of publishers, and the general labor unrest sweeping the nation led to a nationwide flurry of activity among newspaper people, culminating in the December 1933 formation of the American Newspaper Guild (ANG).

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
Congress Investigates the 1934 San Francisco Strike
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The nationwide labor upsurge of 1934 reached its peak in San Francisco. On May 9, 1934, leaders of the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) called a strike of all West Coast dockworkers, demanding a wage scale, a "closed shop" (union membership as a requirement of employment), and union-administered hiring halls. A few days later seamen and teamsters joined the strike, effectively stopping all shipping from San Diego to Seattle. Enraged employers, backed by a sympathetic mayor and police chief, used every means available to open the waterfront and protect strikebreakers, whom they imported in large numbers. Working closely with local politicians and the press, the employers set out to convince the public that the strike was controlled by "Reds" intent on overthrowing the government. These scare tactics led to an investigation of employer actions by a Senate subcommittee. Violations of Free Speech and Rights of Labor, the subcommittee's 1942 report, described the concerted efforts of the Industrial Association, the newspapers, and the San Francisco police to discredit the strike.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
"Continued Employment after the War?": The Women's Bureau Studies Postwar Plans of Women Workers
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During World War II, the defense industry expanded and American men mobilized for military service. Many women found jobs previously unavailable to them in aircraft plants, shipyards, manufacturing companies, and the chemical, rubber, and metals factories producing war materials. These jobs paid higher salaries than those traditionally categorized as "women's work," such as teaching, domestic service, clerical work, nursing, and library science. Married women were discouraged from working outside the home during the Depression to lower competition with men for limited jobs. After the U.S. entered the war, though, the Federal government encouraged housewives to join the work force as a patriotic duty. The number of employed women grew from 14 million in 1940 to 19 million in 1945, rising from 26 to 36 percent of the work force. Most industry analysts and government planners expected this situation to be temporary. At the end of the war, the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor asked women workers about their future work plans. The bulletin excerpted below revealed that most women wanted to keep their present jobs. Immediately after the war, the percentage of women who worked fell as factories converted to peacetime production and refused to rehire women. In the next few years, the service sector expanded and the number of women in the workforce--especially older married women--increased significantly, despite the dominant ideology of woman as homemaker and mother. The types of jobs available to these women, however, were once again limited to those traditionally deemed "women's work."

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
The Corn Parade
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During the Great Depression, New Deal programs provided work for a range of unemployed Americans, including creative artists. Visual artists working for the Federal Art Project created murals for the walls of federal and state buildings and established community art centers in remote areas. The murals often depicted ordinary Americans, at work or in struggle, rendered in heroic, larger than life style. Few of the post office murals commissioned by the Treasury Department Section of Fine Art displayed the humor of Orr C. Fisher's paean to corn. But the Iowa-born Fisher's work suggests the kind of regional boosterism and pride of place that characterized many murals painted by local artists.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017
"Cutting a New Path": A World War II Navy Nurse Fights Sexism in the Military
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In World War II soldiers, sailors, nurses, and airmen often found themselves thrown together with fellow Americans whose experiences and backgrounds were drastically different from their own. Racial segregation was an official policy of the War Department, but gender discrimination was a subtler, if no less troublesome, social constraint. Doris Brander, who enlisted shortly after Pearl Harbor in the navy's Women's Auxiliary Voluntary Expeditionary Service (WAVES), felt that she and her fellow WAVES were rebels, going against the tide of convention and pushing the limits on women's opportunity. In this 1992 interview with Rosetta Kamlowsky, Brander described how she and other women fought the sexism they experienced in the military and strove for gender equality.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
Reading
Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
Provider Set:
Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
Date Added:
11/02/2017