United States in Depression and War

Maryland State Archives
350 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, MD 21401

Phone: (410) 260-6400
Internet: mdsa.net
e-mail: archives@mdsa.net

Introduction

This document packet is a compilation of electronic sources for photographs, textual documents, lesson plans, and other media resources relating to the impact of the Great Depression and World War II on Maryland and the nation. 

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades 5-12:

Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)

STANDARD 1: The causes of the Great Depression and how it affected American society. 

Standard 1B: The student understands how American life changed during the 1930s. 

7-12: Analyze the impact of the Great Depression on industry and workers and explain the response of local and state officials in combating the resulting economic and social crises. [Analyze multiple causation] 
7-12: Analyze the impact of the Great Depression on the American family and on ethnic and racial minorities. [Consider multiple perspectives] 

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION: “Organize among Yourselves”: Mary Gale on Unemployed Organizing in the Great Depression
    NOTES: As described from History Matters: The Communist-led Unemployed Councils were the first and the most active of the radical movements that sought to mobilize the jobless during the Great Depression. In this interview, which is taken from the radio series “Grandma Was an Activist,” relief worker Mary Gale, who was sympathetic to radicals and the jobless, described how she worked behind the scenes to encourage her clients to organize and demand better treatment. The jobless and the poor had few advocates for them, and radicals like Gale not only became their champions but also pushed them to organize themselves.
    Resources Available: TEXT, AUDIO.

  2. DESCRIPTION: “The Depression has Changed People’s Outlook”: The Beuschers Remember the Great Depression in Dubuque, Iowa
    NOTES: As described from History Matters: Before the Great Depression of the 1930’s the Beuschers—he was a sixty-two-year-old railroad worker; she was the mother of their eleven children—had been fairly prosperous: they owned their home and had several life-insurance policies serving as savings. But by the time the Works Progress Administration (WPA) interviewed them in 1937, their lives had dramatically changed: the father had lost his railroad job and the mother was taking in sewing. This interview summary, published by the WPA, showed how they struggled to make ends meet during The Great Depression.
    Resources Available: TEXT.

  3. DESCRIPTION: Losing the Business: The Donners Recall the Great Depression
    NOTES: Created in 1935, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided hope and employment for millions of unemployed workers and studied the human toll of the depression. One such study—a series of WPA-conducted interviews with Dubuque, Iowa families—found that middle-class Americans particularly felt the sting and shame of unemployment caused by the depression. In this interview, the Donners discussed the closing of their family-owned printing business in Chicago during tough times. Returning to live with Mrs. Donner’s family in Dubuque in 1934, Mr. Donner remained unemployed for over a year before landing a job as a timekeeper on a WPA project, earning less than one-third his previous income.
    Resources Available: TEXT.

  4. DESCRIPTION: Deaf and Unemployed in Dubuque: The DiMarcos Remember the Great Depression
    NOTES: The New Deal launched a series of federal employment programs, including the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which not only provided jobs but also initiated many important studies of the depressionÌs human toll. One such study, published by the WPA Division of Research in 1939, included transcripts of interviews by WPA workers with Dubuque, Iowa, families. The DiMarcos interview revealed that the disabled faced a double challenge during the depression: finding employment while competing for scarce jobs with the able-bodied. The DiMarcos, a deaf couple with a small child, recall in their own words (because they were deaf they had to write responses to the WPA interviewer’s questions), the struggles they endured during six years of unemployment.
    Resources Available: TEXT.

  5. DESCRIPTION: Unemployed: photo of Idle man dressed in worn coat lying down on pier: New York City docks
    PHOTOGRAPHER: Lewis W, Hine
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: ca. 1935
    PART OF: Series: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Public Domain Photographs, 1882 - 1962
    REPOSITORY: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (Hyde Park, NY)

  6. DESCRIPTION: Row of men at the New York City docks out of work during the depression, 1934
    CREATOR: Federal Works Agency. Work Projects Administration. National Research Project. (ca. 1941 - ca. 1942) (Most Recent)
    PART OF: Series: Lewis Hine Photographs for the National Research Project, 1936 - 1937
    REPOSITORY: National Archives at College Park - Archives II (College Park, MD)

  7. DESCRIPTION: Scott's Run, West Virginia. Children of employed miner at Sessa Hill - Ewra Hennar's children
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1936 - 1937
    CREATOR: Federal Works Agency. Work Projects Administration. (Most Recent)
    PART OF: Series: Public Roads Administration, ca. 1940 - ca. 1941
    REPOSITORY: National Archives at College Park - Archives II (College Park, MD)

  8. DESCRIPTION: Scott's Run, West Virginia. Johnson family - father unemployed
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 03/19/1937
    CREATOR
    : Federal Works Agency. Work Projects Administration. (Most Recent)
    PART OF: Series: Public Roads Administration, ca. 1940 - ca. 1941
    REPOSITORY: National Archives at College Park - Archives II (College Park, MD)

  9. DESCRIPTION: Scott's Run, West Virginia. Employed miner's family - Sessa Hill - This picture was taken at the natural supper hour. The man is a mine mechanic who installed all kinds of machinery. At first he refused to be photographed and cursed us and the government and the coal operators as being entertained by his minery. As we talked to him he showed us six statements which he held in five different bankrupt mines on Scott's Run. He had not been paid his last pay in any bankruptcy
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 03/19/1937
    CREATOR: Federal Works Agency. Work Projects Administration. (Most Recent)
    PART OF: Series: Public Roads Administration, ca. 1940 - ca. 1941
    REPOSITORY: National Archives at College Park - Archives II (College Park, MD)

  10. DESCRIPTION: Breadlines: long line of people waiting to be fed: New York City: in the absence of substantial government relief programs during 1932, free food was distributed with private funds in some urban centers to large numbers of the unemployed
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: ca. 1932
    CREATOR: Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945 (Most Recent)
    PART OF: Series: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Public Domain Photographs, 1882 - 1962
    REPOSITORY: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (Hyde Park, NY)

  11. DESCRIPTION: "Runs on Banks": people milling about outside of bank
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: ca. 1933
    CREATOR: Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945 (Most Recent)
    PART OF: Series: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Public Domain Photographs, 1882 - 1962
    REPOSITORY: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (Hyde Park, NY)

  12. DESCRIPTION: Farmer in despair over the depression in 1932., 1932
    CREATOR: Department of Agriculture. Office of the Secretary. Office of Information. (1925 - ca. 1981) (Most Recent)
    PART OF: Series: Photographs of Agriculture Department Personnel and Activities, Collected by the USDA Press Service, 1895 - 1940
    REPOSITORY: National Archives at College Park - Archives II (College Park, MD)

  13. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Melvin Weimer of Jennings, Maryland, once a prosperous lumber man of Garrett County, Maryland
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: December 1937
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 

  14. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Charles County, Maryland. Pupils at the one-room elementary school for Negroes at Waldorf come in after recess.
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: October 21-November 2, 1941
    REPOSITORY: National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 

  15. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Sergeant Franklin Williams, home on leave from army duty, with his best girl Ellen Hardin, splitting a soda. They met at Douglas High School. Baltimore, Maryland
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: May 1942
    REPOSITORY: National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC

  16. DESCRIPTION: Photograph, Mrs. Sam Crawford helps with tobacco harvesting on her husband's farm in Maryland.
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: October 8, 1943
    REPOSITORY: National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 

  17. DESCRIPTION:  “80 Rounds in Our Pants Pockets”: Orville Quick Remembers Pearl Harbor 
    NOTES: As described by History Matters: 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.
    Resources Available: TEXT, AUDIO.

  18. DESCRIPTION: “Cutting a New Path”: A World War II Navy Nurse Fights Sexism in the Military
     NOTES: As described by History Matters: 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 Womens 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.
    Resources Available: TEXT, AUDIO.

  19. DESCRIPTION: “Shooting at People Wasn’t Our Bag”: One of the Inventors of the Computer Speaks
    NOTES: As described by History Matters: Who invented the computer? Like many important technological developments, the invention of the computer cannot rightly be attributed to a single person. It is clear, however, that World War II was crucial to the emergence of the electronic digital computer. The first general-purpose electronic computer was the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, the ENIAC, sponsored by the U.S. Army’s Ballistics Research Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and developed at the the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. The leaders of the project were physicist John W. Mauchly and a young electrical engineer, John Presper Eckert. In this interview, done in 1988 by David Allison and Peter Vogt for the Smithsonian Institution, Eckert described how the war provided “the opportunity”and the money to solve “engineering problems, scientific problems in general”that interested them.
    Resources Available: TEXT, AUDIO.

  20. DESCRIPTION: World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces Personnel from Maryland
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: June 1946
    NOTES: This document lists War Department casualties (Army and Army Air Force personnel) from World War II. Entries in the list are arranged by name of county and thereunder alphabetically by name of deceased. Information provided includes serial number, rank and type of casualty. The birthplace or residence of the deceased is not indicated. An introduction explaining how the list was compiled, a statistical tabulation, and the descriptions of the types of casualties incurred are also included.
    REPOSITORY: National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC

  21. DESCRIPTION: State Summary of War Casualties from World War II for Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Personnel from Maryland
    CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1946
    NOTES: This list identifies those men on active duty with the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, whose deaths resulted directly from enemy action or from operational activities against the enemy in war zones from December 7, 1941, to the end of World War II. Casualties which occurred in the United States, or as a result of disease, homicide, or suicide anywhere are not included. Entries in the list are arranged into the following sections: Dead (Combat), Dead (Prison Camp), Missing, Wounded and Released Prisoners, and thereunder alphabetically by name. The list includes the rank of the decedent, and the name, address and relationship of next-of-kin.
    REPOSITORY: National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC

Additional Media Resources

Great Depression World War II

Additional Instructional Resources 

Great Depression

World War II

See also: 

Secondary Resources

Argersinger, Jo Ann E.  Toward A New Deal in Baltimore: People and Government in the Great Depression. Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press:  1988.

Bentley, Amy, "Wages of War: The Shifting Landscape of Race and Gender in World War II Baltimore" Maryland Historical Magazine (Winter 1993): 420.

Bond, Chrystelle Trump, "Homefront Heroes: Jitterbugging in Wartime Baltimore" Maryland Historical Magazine (Winter 1993): 462.

Breihan, John, "Between Munich and Pearl Harbor: The Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Company Gears up for War, 1938-1941" Maryland Historical Magazine (Winter 1993): 389.

Callcott, George. Maryland & America: 1940 to 1980. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985.

Shank, Christopher, "Wings over Hagerstown: Experiencing the Second World War in Western Maryland" Maryland Historical Magazine (Winter 1993): 444.

Credits

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

An Archives of Maryland Online Publication
© Copyright, Maryland State Archives, July 01, 2005