December 21, 2014

Primary Source Learning: Great Depression & World War II Primary Source Set

Working on him
Have students use the primary sources in this set to tell a story about the period 1929-1945. At the depths of the great depression, which followed the stock market crash in October 1929, over one-quarter of the American workforce was out of work. But President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted a variety of “New Deal” programs and told U.S. citizens that there was nothing to fear but fear itself. Although the United States tried to stay out of World War II, eventually, the wartime economy would help lift the U.S. out of the economic doldrums and set it on a path towards becoming a  world superpower. The story about this time of hardship and renovation may be in digital or print form. It could be nonfiction, fiction, poetry, or even a song. Click on each thumbnail image below to access the full size primary source. You may also use this primary set for a found poetry activity (click the previous link). Be sure to take a look at the Great Depression & World War II timeline as well as associated lesson plans (see below).

Migrant agricultural worker's family
Migrant agricultural worker’s family
Fiddling Bill Hensley, dancing in foreground

Fiddling Bill Hensley, dancing in foreground

Farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust storm

Farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust storm

Entrance to Manzanar Relocation Center

Entrance to Manzanar Relocation Center

Wife of a migratory laborer with three children
Wife of a migratory laborer with three children
Three U.S. Army field commanders [in] conference with supreme commander

U.S. Army field commanders conference with supreme commander

CIO pickets jeering at few workers who were entering a mill
CIO pickets jeering at few workers who were entering a mill
Negro and white man sitting on curb talking
Negro and white man sitting on curb talking
The careful hands of women are trained in precise aircraft engine installation

The careful hands of women are trained in precise aircraft engine installation

Evacuation of Japanese-Americans from West Coast under war emergency order

Evacuation of Japanese-Americans from West Coast under war emergency order

Sailor and girl at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Sailor and girl at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Negro going in colored entrance of movie house on Saturday afternoon

Negro going in colored entrance of movie house on Saturday afternoon

Anna Potter Davis Interview: July 13, 1937 Anna Potter Davis Interview: July 13, 1937 Franklin D. Roosevelt to J. Robert Oppenheimer thanking the physicist
Franklin D. Roosevelt to J. Robert Oppenheimer thanking the physicist
Amelia Earhart's palm print and analysis of her character
Amelia Earhart’s palm print and analysis of her character
January 3, 1940. [Message] to the Congress
January 3, 1940. [Message] to the Congress
Working on himWorking on him Fanfare for the common man
Fanfare for the common man (song audio & background)

Related resources

World War II themed link sets (primary sources, lesson plans & more)

Primary source sets by time period

Settlement primary source set

American Revolution primary source set

Young Nation primary source set

Expansion & Reform primary source set

Civil War & Reconstruction primary source set

Industrial America primary source set

Progressive Era primary source set

Primary Source Learning: Postwar United States (1945-1968) primary source set

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