What Caused the Great Depression

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					The Great Depression
                Cotton Eyed Joe
Where did you come from
Where did you go
Where did you come from,
Cotton Eyed Joe?
I come from the city
I come for to show
Come from a place
Called Cotton Eyed Joe.
Cotton Eyed Joe had a new suit of clothes
Nobody knows where he got them clothes.
Went to the weddin'
Went to the show
Stuffed my gut
Full of sweet cake dough.
Cotton Eyed Joe had a new suit of clothes
Nobody knows where he got them clothes.
                      Teacher Notes
The links in this presentation lead directly to the internet pages.
Make sure that you have logged on to your internet prior to clicking
on the link.
This presentation may be modified and used as a multimedia
presentation in a lecture format or may be used in a computer lab or
as a group presentation in internet research.
Sources include the Alabama Department of Archives and History
which has copies of primary documents (some used in the
PowerPoint) and lesson plans (which are linked).
Direct lesson plans for this presentation will follow.
         Causes of the Great Depression
• Speculation in the 1920s caused many people to by stocks with loaned money and
  they used these stocks as collateral for buying more stocks. Broker's loans went
  from under $5 million in mid 1928 to $850 million in September of 1929. The stock
  market boom was very unsteady, because it was based on borrowed money and false
  optimism. When investors lost confidence, the stock market collapsed, taking them
  along with it.
• Short sighted government economic policies were one of the factors that led to the
  Great Depression. Politicians believed that business was the key business of
  America. Thus, the government took no action against unwise investing. Congress
  passed high tariffs that protected American industries but hurt farmers and
  international trade.
• The economy was not stable. National wealth was not spread evenly. Instead, most
  money was in the hands of a few families who saved or invested rather than spent
  their money on American goods. Thus, supply was greater than demand. Some
  people profited, but others did not. Prices went up and Americans could not afford
  anything. Farmers and workers did not profit. Unevenness of prosperity made
  recovery difficult.
• Stock Market crash of 1929
            The New Deal in Alabama
• Alabamians overwhelmingly supported
  President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New
• Alabama's congressional delegation has
  sometimes been called the South's most
  progressive and effective.
• New Deal programs helped both to stabilize
  temporary conditions (WPA, CCC, CWA) and
  also provided the basis for long-term economic
  growth (TVA).
• Some of these programs brought negative as
  well as positive results.
• Alabama's Democratic party and the state's
  elected officials tended to become more liberal.
• Gov. Benjamin M. Miller elected in 1930.
• Gov. Bibb Graves elected as pro-New Dealer
   to his second term as governor in 1934 and
   created many state agencies to manage New
   Deal funds and programs.
• Lister Hill, U.S. senator and major supporter
   of New Deal in Congress.
• John H. Bankhead Jr., U.S. senator, co-
   sponsor of Bankhead-Jones Act, which was
   designed to help tenant farmers acquire their
   own land, and other New Deal programs.
• Hugo L. Black, pro-New Deal U.S. senator,
   appointed to the Supreme Court in 1937.
• Creation of Tennessee Valley
   Authority in 1933.
• Gov. Bibb Graves creates
   Alabama Department of Labor
   and Department of Human
   Welfare in 1935.
• Passage of Social Security Act by
   Congress, 1935.
• Organization of Alabama
   Chamber of Commerce in 1937.
• Organization of liberal Southern
   Conference for Human Welfare in
   Birmingham, 1938.
                 Alabama Images
                         Bud Fields and his family. Alabama.
                         1935 or 1936. Photographer: Walker

A sharecropper's yard,
Hale County, Alabama,
Summer 1936.
Photographer: Walker
Porch of a sharecropper's
  cabin, Hale County,
  Alabama, Summer 1936.
  Photographer: Walker

                            Kitchen in house of Floyd
                            Burroughs, sharecropper, near
                            Moundville, Hale County,
                            Alabama. Summer 1936.

                            Photographer these four
                            pictures: Walker Evans.
Carbon Hill, Alabama
                “Faced with economic disaster,
                Carbon Hill civic leaders
                aggressively pursued sources
                of funding and relief work
                provided by the New Deal's
                Works Progress Administration
                (WPA) and the Public Works
                Administration (PWA)”

                The link above connects the
                user to a photographic slide
                show by William C. Pryor. The
                website documents the effects
                of government aid for the
                poverty-stricken rural town of
                Carbon Hill, Alabama (seen at
     Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
        The Tennessee Valley Act was signed in 1933 “to
        improve the navigability and to provide for the
        flood control of the Tennessee River; to
        provide for reforestation and the proper use of
        marginal lands in the Tennessee Valley; to
        provide for the agricultural and industrial
        development of said valley; to provide for the
        national defense by the creation of a
        corporation for the operation of Government
        properties at and near Muscle Shoals in the
        State of Alabama, and for other purposes”

First Board
of Directors:
Harcourt A.
Arthur E.
Morgan, and
David E.
 Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
Use the link above to access the main
lesson plan regarding the TVA at
The origins of the TVA began in the 1920s
and led to the Tennessee Valley Authority
Act in 1933. From the beginning, the TVA
was a controversial project. Link to
President Roosevelt’s remarks from a
November 23 Warm Springs, Georgia,
press conference as he describes the
development of the TVA. Even read first
person accounts from Journalist Lorena
Hickok as she traveled through the
Tennessee Valley.
Many different activities may be utilized
when studying the formation of the TVA.
Students may examine the use of political
cartoons in influencing or describing public
opinion, debate the construction of massive
public works projects, or research the         March 23, 1938 New York Herald Tribune
website to answer a variety of questions.
Works Progress Administration
              During the Great Depression of the
              1930s, when as many as one out of
              four Americans could not find jobs,
              the federal government stepped in to
              become the employer of last resort.
              The Works Progress Administration
              (WPA), an ambitious New Deal
              program, put 8,500,000 jobless to
              work, mostly on projects that
              required manual labor. With Uncle
              Sam meeting the payroll, countless
              bridges, highways and parks were
              constructed or repaired.
From pay hikes…
                …to rat killings…
…the “State [of
Alabama] progresses 50
years in 41 months of
WPA work.”
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
This environmental program put 2.5 million unmarried men to
work maintaining and restoring forests, beaches, and parks.
Workers earned only $1 a day but received free board and job
training. From 1934 to 1937, this program funded similar
programs for 8,500 women.
Civil Works Administration (CWA)
                • This public work
                  program gave the
                  unemployed jobs
                  building or repairing
                  roads, parks, airports,

           Alabama Lesson Links
1.   Lesson 1“...we are in need.” This lesson uses primary documents to teach
     how social programs addressed the needs of poor residents of the state of
2.   Lesson 2 “…a delegation of citizens.” Addresses the new tax package
     pushed through the Alabama legislature in 1933 by Governor Benjamin
     Meek Miller. Students are challenged to serve on “committees” to address
     the problems of the state.
3.   Lesson “…a helping hand.” Compare and contrast living standards of the
     Great Depression era with those of today and define the roles of civic
     organizations to those in need.

4.   Lesson “Strike!” Debate the roles of the workers and unions during the
     turbulent thirties.

                         Source: Alabama Department of Archives and History
           Movies set during the 30s
 ANNIE (1982): In this musical, little Orphan Annie becomes
  the ward of a millionaire.
 GOSFORD PARK (2001): The year is 1932 and the setting is
  an opulent English country estate. This film is rated R for some
  language and brief sexuality.
 THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940): An adaptation of John
  Steinbeck's novel set in Oklahoma dust bowl during the 1930s.
 THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN (1985): This Walt Disney
  film tells the story of a young girl growing up during the
  Depression named Natty Gann.
 OF MICE AND MEN (1992): An adaptation of the classic John
  Steinbeck novel set during the Great Depression.
 THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965): A classic Rodgers &
  Hammerstein musical set during the late 1930s.
 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962): A film based on Harper
  Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name.
The Department of Archives and History was
the first state agency established to preserve
records and artifacts. The Archives include
government records, artifacts, photos, maps,
pamphlets, books, personal manuscripts,
business records, film and video, organizational
records, and newspapers that tell of Alabama’s
past and present.
The New Deal Network was
founded in 1996 by the
Franklin and Eleanor
Roosevelt Institute (FERI), in
conjunction with with the
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Presidential Library, Marist
College, and IBM. This
website has many research
and teaching resources which
are helpful when discussing
the difficulties of the Great
Depression which eventually
resulted in a massive federal
This website includes the history of the TVA
along with a link to the Tennessee Valley
Authorization Act. Maps are helpful to
visualize the impact of the TVA on the seven
state region of the Tennessee Valley.
Additional Sources

Eras of Elegance

American Life Histories

Voices from the Dust Bowl

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