Featured Primary Sources

The Great Depression

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, text to place the document in historical context, and document-based questions. In addition, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

First Inaugural Address of Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 4, 1933. (GLC00675)

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inauguration, 1933

Creator: Franklin D. Roosevelt Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics, Literature Grade Levels:
Inaugural Address of President Herbert Hoover, March 4, 1929 (Gilder Lehrman Col

Herbert Hoover’s Inaugural Address, 1929

Creator: Herbert Hoover Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Hooverville in Portland, Oregon, photograph by Arthur Rothstein, July 1936. (Lib

Photograph of a “Hooverville,” 1936

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Abandoned farm in the Dust Bowl, Coldwater District, near Dalhart Texas, photogr

Photograph of an abandoned farm in the Dust Bowl, 1938

Creator: Dorothea Lange Curriculum Subjects: Art, Economics, Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Franklin D. Roosevelt to Frederick S. Greene, July 28, 1932. (GLC00224)

The origins of FDR’s New Deal, 1932

Creator: Franklin D. Roosevelt Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:

Primary Sources from Other Sub-Eras

Mount Rushmore (Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress)

Building Mount Rushmore, 1926

Creator: Gutzon Borglum Curriculum Subjects: Art Grade Levels:
Enlistment poster for the Arizona Civilian Conservation Corps., September 24, 19

Civilian Conservation Corps poster, 1938

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Art, Economics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address at Chautauqua, NY, August 14, 1936. (Gilder Lehrm

Franklin Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy, 1936

Creator: Franklin D. Roosevelt Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels:
Herbert Hoover to Louis L. Emmerson, July 10, 1931. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Herbert Hoover on the Great Depression and New Deal, 1931–1933

Creator: Herbert Hoover Curriculum Subjects: Foreign Languages Grade Levels:
John P. Sousa to John W. Hughes, March 12, 1930. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

John Philip Sousa critiques modern music, 1930

Creator: John P. Sousa Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

The Supreme Court upholds national prohibition, 1920

Creator: Wayne B. Wheeler Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
“Roosevelt or Reaction?” campaign poster, Democratic National Campaign Committee

“Reelect Roosevelt—Friend of Labor,” 1936

Creator: Democratic National Campaign Committee Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: