Where Was the New Deal?
- National Archives Education Team
- Mapping History
- Historical Era:
- The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
- Primary Historical Thinking Skill:
- Historical Research Capabilities
- Bloom's Taxonomy:
In this activity, students will identify three New Deal programs – the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and Works Progress Administration (WPA) – locate where projects associated with each took place, and analyze their impact on each region.
Students will be able to:
- Match photographs to their corresponding locations on a map
- Define key vocabulary terms
- Examine photographs to identify jobs and activities related to specific New Deal programs
- Determine what New Deal programs are depicted in images
- Identify differences in New Deal projects due to the variety of geographic features or conditions in various states or regions and needs based on these differences
- Discover New Deal projects that occurred in their own state or region
For grades 6-12. Approximate time needed is 80 minutes.
Provide students with a list of New Deal programs and allow time for students to research three major programs: the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Use textbook readings or resources available from the National Archives.
Discuss goals and accomplishments of the WPA, CCC, and TVA during the Great Depression. Define key terms and concepts related to the Great Depression and New Deal programs. The following list can be modified for younger students: Depression, first hundred days, bank holiday, alphabet agencies, Dust Bowl, relief, recovery, reform, rugged individualism, coalition, national debt, nationalization, public works, fireside chats, direct relief, bread line, soup kitchen, price support, Second New Deal, infrastructure.
Display for students the map and documents. Inform students that some photographs have already been placed in their correct locations while others need placing.
Model document analysis with the photographs already pinned on the map. Instruct students to perform the same careful examination of each of the remaining photographs (as a class, individually, or in small groups). Ask students to notice the kinds of jobs being carried out by people in the images as they analyze them. They should also consider the physical and economic features of each geographic region portrayed.
As a class, individually, or in small groups, ask students to move the remaining photographs on the map to the city or state where they believe they were taken. Students may need to refer to a map or perform internet searches to determine where some projects or cities are located.
Ask students to create a list of the various jobs depicted after viewing all of the documents. They should place all of the jobs in one of three categories: WPA, CCC, and TVA. As a class, use a Venn diagram to illustrate the similarities and differences of each agency and the types of jobs that each provided. Ask students to come to some conclusions about the type of work being performed in different regions of the country.
Finally, ask students to consider current problems or needs of their state or region. Are there buildings, bridges, roads, or other physical elements of infrastructure that should be repaired or replaced? Are there homeless, at-risk, or needy populations who require more resources to survive? Ask students to create an outline of a 21st century New Deal program that would address these contemporary needs.
For more information about the featured documents, follow the links below.
Documents in this activity:
- WPA; “LSU Stadium Dedication; Hopkins speaking (back)”
- Civilian Conservation Corps in Idaho, Boise National Forest
- CCC boys surveying thinning area, Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota
- WPA: Indianapollis, Indiana “Flood Control”
- WPA: FAP: kids involved in metal projects in New York City
- Tennessee Valley Authority, dams in Alabama
- WPA: Federal Theater Project:actors rehearsing scenes from the production “Brother Mose” in Newark, New Jersey
- TVA Aircraft Ground Crew with Bi-Plane
- CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps Camp] Camp BR-58 Carlsbad Project, New Mexico: Photo of enrollees with a dump truck spreading lining for a canal.
- CCC Camp BR-61 North Platte Project, Bayard, Nebraska: Photo of enrollees placing concrete at Siphon No. 5 intake.
- Topeka, Kansas. Works Progress Administration (WPA) mattress making project.
- Scott’s Run, West Virginia. Interior of the Jero WPA nursery - These children are from unemployed miners’ homes.
- Newberry County, South Carolina. CCC enrollees planting pine seedlings on W. W. Riser’s farm, Newberry . . .
- “TVA shovel at work on roadway at Norris Dam site.”