The 1930s collection examines America’s response to the unprecedented economic crisis that threatened the nation during one of history’s most tumultuous decades — a decade that is increasingly a touchstone for our own. In a series of five films, this AMERICAN EXPERIENCE explores politics and culture during the Great Depression through eyewitness accounts and rare archival footage.
The 1930s touches on themes straight from the 2009 news headlines — beginning with the problems with banking security, stock market manipulation, and speculation that led to the Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression.
In 1933, newly-elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched an unprecedented economic stimulus package as part of what he called the New Deal. One of the most popular New Deal programs, The Civilian Conservation Corps, put young men to work for $1 a day. Two months later, thousands of skilled workers began construction on Hoover Dam, one of the greatest engineering projects of the modern era. Meanwhile, farmers and residents of the Great Plains suffered through a catastrophic eight-year drought in Surviving the Dust Bowl. Finally, Depression-wary Americans found an unlikely hero in a champion Thoroughbred horse named Seabiscuit.
“The past offers us the opportunity to see the shape of human experience,” says AMERICAN EXPERIENCE executive producer Mark Samels. “As we navigate through our current global recession, the likes of which we haven’t seen in more than 75 years, Americans can look to the ’30s to help understand how we got here, and where we may end up next.”