Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

United States History in Streaming Documentary Films: Great Depression 1929–1941

Great Depression 1929–1941

An American Depression
"1929: The biggest economic crisis of the 20th century brought an abrupt end to the euphoria of the Roaring Twenties. Driven from their land, the farmers of the Great Plains were forced to abandon everything they had. They became migrants in their own country, and were treated as such by the vast Californian estates. They became the symbol of an America confronted by its own reality. Built on the work of the iconic photographers of the Great Depression - Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Arthur Rothstein - this full archive documentary analyzes the consequences of the economic collapse in the United States and provides a unique take on the failure of the American model."

Bust: America
"On October 29th, 1929, the boom era of the Jazz Age came to a crashing halt on Wall Street. The dramatic effects of the Great Depression and New Deal are the main topics of this program. Despite the country’s economic collapse, major public works projects such as the Hoover Dam offered proof of the industrial and technological might of the United States—and of the undeniable abilities of the American worker."

A Chaos of Experimentation
"Focus on Franklin Roosevelt's contagious optimism, which set the tone of his presidency. Take a closer look at the bold new programs known as the New Deal that changed the relationship between American citizens and the federal government."

The Depression
"With the crash of the stock market on October 29, 1929, America's economic expansion and prosperity came to an abrupt end, and citizens faced extraordinary hardships that persisted throughout the era that President Hoover named the Great Depression. This program examines the many factors that led to the Depression, Hoover's attempts to counter the nation's economic woes, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal programs. The video also discusses the election of 1932, which put Franklin Delano Roosevelt in office by a landslide, and examines the relief, recovery, and reform measures initiated during the New Deal."

Depression and War
"With Black Thursday, and the collapse of the stock market, America heads into the Great Depression. Franklin D. Roosevelt builds a New Deal, while, overseas, Adolf Hitler rises to power and invades Poland. Responding to Pearl Harbor, the worst attack in American history to that time, FDR guides the nation through World War II.:

Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning
"More than four decades of 20th-century America are filtered through Lange’s life and lens—her creations and achievements, her tragedies and losses. Known for her powerful images from the Great Depression, her haunting 'Migrant Mother' remains emblematic of that period. In 1936, when photographs of the poverty-stricken mother of seven, stranded in a camp in California, were published, a national awareness began. As America matured into a world power, Lange continued to bear witness—mass migration, increasing urbanization and the cost of war at home—bringing subjects alive, transmitting raw emotions and capturing the human condition."

FDR and the Depression
"Professor Brinkley continues his story of twentieth century presidents with a profile of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Brinkley paints a picture of America during the Depression and chronicles some of Roosevelt's programmatic and personal efforts to help the country through its worst economic crisis. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is at FDR's side and, in many respects, ahead of him as the decade unfolds."

FDR: Years of Crisis
"Follow the life and career of the famed politician in the years before he became president and explore the forces that shaped his vision."

The Great Depression
"From the collapse of the stock market on October 29, 1929—Black Tuesday—to the many federal initiatives designed to revive the faltering U.S. economy, this program offers an insightful overview of life during the Great Depression. The presidential administrations of Herbert Hoover and FDR; the New Deals and their effects on labor, conservation, and cultural life; the Dust Bowl; and the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act are discussed..."

The Great Depression: 1929-1939
"Highlighted by the commentary of Eric Goldman, noted historian of the period, the narrative begins with Black Thursday and the panic on Wall Street. The program describes the effects of unemployment, traces Roosevelt's 'New Deal' and concludes with the coming of World War II and the return of prosperity."

Hard Times
"Watch as this video explores the causes and effects of the Great Depression, when America's booming economy skidded to a halt. Learn how the agricultural slump, industrial overproduction, and stock market crash combined to shatter the American economy."

Huey Long
"The populist governor of Louisiana and United States senator, Huey Long captured the American imagination with his dramatic speeches and promise of “Every man a king.” “The Kingfish” governed during the Great Depression, advocating public works and spending money on state highways, hospitals, schools, and old-age pensions. Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns examines Long’s extraordinary career from his political beginnings in the 1920s until his 1935 assassination. A hero to his constituents, an unscrupulous and unethical “dictator” to his critics, this complex man is drawn out with archival footage and interviews with Long’s family members, Louisiana natives, politicians, historians and colleagues. Distributed by PBS Distribution."

 

Ken Buns: The Dust Bowl
The Great Plow Up
"In the early twentieth century, thousands of homesteaders and 'suitcase farmers"'converge on the southern Plains, where wet years, rising wheat prices and World War I produce a classic boom. Millions of acres of virgin sod are plowed up. Caroline Henderson stakes her claim in a strip of Oklahoma called No Man's Land, and for a while prosperity seems certain for her and the families of two dozen survivors who provide eyewitness testimony. Then, in 1931, a decade-long drought begins, exacerbated by the Great Depression. Huge dust storms carry off the exposed topsoil and darken the skies at midday, killing crops and livestock. 'Dust pneumonia' breaks out, threatening children's lives. And just when it seems things could not get any worse, in 1935 the most catastrophic dust storm in history strikes on 'Black Sunday.'"

Reaping the Whirlwind
"Following 'Black Sunday,' the crucible of dust, drought and Depression only intensifies. Many people on the southern Plains, including an itinerant songwriter named Woody Guthrie, give up and join a 'migration of the defeated' to California. There they are branded as 'Okies' and face vicious discrimination. Meanwhile, Caroline Henderson and her neighbors struggle to hang on to their land. Franklin Roosevelt's administration attempts to help them through New Deal programs aimed at preventing the breadbasket of America from becoming a Sahara. Survivors recount their families' desperate times, their joy at the rains' return, and the lessons learned--and sometimes forgotten--from the Dust Bowl."

 

Riding the Rails
"Archival footage and newsreel interviews featuring kids full of bravado tells the unforgettable story of 250,000 teenagers who left their homes and hopped freight trains during the Great Depression."

 

(AN AMERICAN DEPRESSION)