Modern World History - Schools History Project - Teachers Resources - Films


Site Search

The United States, 1919-1941

Causes of the Economic Boom (1920's)

Consequences of the Economic Boom (1920's)

Industries in decline (1920's)

Problems in Agriculture (1920's)

The Roaring Twenties

Prohibition and Gangsters

Racism and Intolerance

Causes of the Wall Street Crash

Consequences of the Wall Street Crash

The impact of the depression

The Nature of the New Deal

Opposition to the New Deal

Was the New Deal a Success?

The USA, 1945 - 1975.

The Red Scare

Impact of war on Civil Rights

Civil Rights in 1950

Brown v Topeka Board of Education

Little Rock High School

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Protest

Martin Luther King Jnr

Nation of Islam / Malcolm X

Black Panthers

Ku Klux Klan

March on Washington

Civil Rights Acts

Immigration Act, 1965

Rights for Hispanic Americans

Student Protests of the 1960's

Womens Rights

Issues faced by Native Americans in the 1970's



The Wall Street Crash of 1929 marked the start of the great depression which hit America first and then the rest of the world during the 1930s. The Cycle of Prosperity turned into a Spiral of Depression as consumer spending fell by almost half and companies found it difficult to sell their products. By 1932 the entire banking system was close to collapse. The highest cost of all was the human misery and despair. People had suffered the depression for over two years with no sign of improvement. Unemployment had risen to over 12 million and there was widespread poverty and homelessness. President Hoover believed in ‘Rugged Individualism’ and that the government should not interfere. He was determined to balance the budget and refused to spend government money to help the unemployed. Hoover believed in ‘rugged individualism’, which meant that people should look after themselves He thought things would improve if people worked hard and that the government should not interfere. Many Americans thought Hoover did not care and that he would do nothing to improve things. This lack of action led to people blaming him for their problems.

Video Clip: The Great Depression


• There was no Social Security (Welfare) or unemployment pay in America at this time. The unemployed often went hungry. The only way they could get money was to borrow from friends or relatives. They were forced to buy cheap food, scavenge or beg for food. In some of the worst hit areas people were starving to death on the streets.


Men seeking work during the Depression

• Unemployed people often had to rely on charity handouts and soup kitchens run by organizations like the Salvation Army. Many unemployed people lost their homes as they couldn’t afford to keep up the payment on their rent or mortgages. Unemployment broke up families and many men left home to look for work and ended up as ‘hobos’.

• Hoovervilles were camps set up by the unemployed and homeless families on waste ground. People lived in tents or shelters made of waste materials. There were no water supplies or toilets and the camps were usually built close to a river. The people who lived in Hoovervilles would go into the city to look for work, beg or go to soup kitchens.

Video Clip: Hoovervilles


• Life was no better in farming areas. Farm prices fell by 70% and thousands of farmers were made homeless when they could not pay their mortgages. Mechanization meant there were fewer jobs available in farming states. Intensive farming of the prairies, drought and high winds destroyed the soil and turned the land into a dustbowl.

• In 1931 ex-soldiers or veterans marched to Washington to petition the government to pay out wartime bonuses early. Hoover used the regular army against them. His treatment of the ‘Bonus Army’ seemed to show that Hoover did not care about the unemployed.

Bonus March

Ex-soldiers participating in the Bonus March.

• The use of terms such as Hoovervilles were designed to turn people against Hoover and his policies. Hoover did provide finance for the Hoover dam and other public works but this was very small scale and did little to improve the situation.

• By the election of 1932 people had lost faith in Hoover and no longer trusted what he said. Many Americans believed Hoover would do nothing for them despite his claims ‘that recovery was just around the corner’ when they could see no sign of improvement.

• The Democrat Presidential candidate F.D.Roosevelt offered the voters a New Deal. He promised to take action to end the depression and by using government money and power to help people suffering from the effects of the Depression. Roosevelt or FDR won!






Contact - Medicine Through Time - Crime and Punishment Through Time - Schools History