The 1930s

America’s response to the unprecedented economic crisis that threatened the nation during one of history’s most tumultuous decades

Films in this Collection

The Civilian Conservation Corps

The New Deal program CCC put three million young men to work in camps across America.

The Hurricane of '38

Before radar had been invented a devastating hurricane hit America, surprising residents of the East Coast and killing more than 600 people.

Riding the Rails

The evocative stories of teenage hoboes crisscrossing America on trains during the Great Depression.

Surviving the Dust Bowl

The story of the farmers who dreamed of prosperity and lived through ten years of drought, dust, disease and death.

The Crash of 1929

The unbounded optimism of the Jazz Age and the shocking consequences when reality finally hit on October 29th, 1929.


Thoroughbred racehorse Seabiscuit was the long shot that captured America's heart during the Depression.

Hoover Dam

During the Great Depression, Americans built the Hoover Dam, one of the greatest engineering works in history.

Special Features


About the Collection

Photo Gallery:

The 1930s

Teacher's Resources:

Teacher's Guide

My American Experience

My American Experience photos

Share Your Story

Did you or a family member experience life in America in the 1930s? What does the decade mean to you? Share your American experience with us.

Series Blog

Staff Favorite Films

June 5, 2013

This Fall, American Experience will celebrate its 25th anniversary. That's 25 years of documentaries broadcast on PBS -- 287 films, 399 hours of programming, and 428 nights of television. Everyone has a favorite, including all of us on staff at American Experience, and we want to share that with you. As part of our 25th anniversary celebration, we are going to publish a Staff Favorite Film blog post every month, starting today.

  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH