Great Depression

People and Perspectives

by Hamilton Cravens, Editor


With a 25 percent unemployment rate, the closure of 5,500 banks, and 32,000 business bankruptcies, the impact of the Great Depression was widespread and catastrophic. However, the impact on the day-to-day lives of ordinary Americans is the strongest indicator of the Depression's devastation.

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Cover image for Great Depression

July 2009


Pages 275
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics American History/General

An insightful collection of essays focused on American men, women, and children from a range of economic classes and ethnic backgrounds during the Great Depression.

Who were the people waiting in the bread lines and living in Hoovervilles? Who were the migrants heading North and West? Did anyone survive the Depression relatively unscathed? Giving a voice to stories often untold, Great Depression: People and Perspectives covers the full spectrum of American life, portraying the experiences of ordinary citizens during the worst economic crisis in the nation's history.

Great Depression shows how specific groups coped with the traumatic upheaval of the times, including rural Americans, women, children, African Americans, and immigrants. In addition, it offers revealing chapters on the conflict between social scientists and policymakers responding to the crisis, the impact of the Depression on the health of U.S. citizens, and the roles that American technology and Hollywood movies played in helping the nation survive.


  • 11 expert contributors, including well-established scholars who bring new perspectives to the study of the Great Depression
  • A wide range of primary sources such as news articles, photographs, diaries, and letters that provide a deeper understanding of daily life during the Depression


  • Provides an in-depth picture of the privations the Great Depression brought upon ordinary citizens
  • Addresses the impact of the Depression on medicine and public health
  • Shows the overall positive impact of Hollywood movies on the country during the Depression
Author Info

Hamilton Cravens is Professor of History at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. He received his PhD from the University of Iowa. His published works include Ideas in American Culture and Before Head Start: The Iowa Station and America's Children.



"This resource can be recommended for high school and college libraries that support courses on American history . . . the perspective provided by this volume deserves a place in a comprehensive history collection."ARBAonline

"This well-rounded collection of essays provides an informative overview of life during the Great Depression. It is most appropriate for high school collections and libraries catering to undergraduate students."Library Journal

Reviewed with Civil War: People and Perspectives

"Rather than highlighting politics or battles, these titles focus on how individuals and groups–including women, youth, African Americans, Native Americans, and various religious minorities–fared and were shaped by events during significant periods in American history. In addition to the attention to diverse groups, chapters in Great Depression explore the myriad problems faced in urban areas versus the countryside, and the impact of both technology and Hollywood movies during the 1930s. Civil War includes essays on soldiers, civilians, immigrants, and cities. Chapters in each volume are well researched, well documented, and individually authored. Informative sidebars will pique readers' interest in lesser-known personalities, while the substantial number of primary sources appended to each volume will allow advanced researchers the opportunity to explore topics in more depth."School Library Journal

"This reference for general readers and students in high school and up gives voice to American men, women, and children from a range of economic classes and ethnic backgrounds during the Great Depression. . . . Topics in the series are selected to fit curricular standards for both high school history classes and undergraduate American history courses. An emphasis on social history brings historical analysis into the classroom, while still focusing on topics that will engage students."Reference & Research Book News

"Recommended."Library Media Connection

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