The New Deal and Our Ancestors

Many of our recent ancestors and relatives lived through America’s Great Depression and the Roosevelt’s New Deal program. Most people today are aware of the massive economic collapse (1929-1933) across the country during those years of the Great Depression, but few really understand what the New Deal (1933-1938) was comprised of for our ancestors.

A great online site New Deal Network provides you with a good deal of information and images of what the New Deal really achieved and how it helped everyday people. It has been stated as the “3 Rs”: Relief, Recovery, and Reform. There was Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.

The numerous programs started were to help bring employment and make major contributions to improve the quality of life for Americans. Everything from new and improved roads, more schools, community halls, expand available electricity, bridges, art work as well as writing and preserving American history.

The site provides many categories relating to the program and achievements of the New Deal. Not just from a historical viewpoint, but more of the type of life many of our ancestors had to face to survive makes the understanding of the New Deal very important. You can easily get a sense of life in the mid to late 1930s, when your parents, grandparents could have been young adults, children, or older adults.

The first section is the New Deal Document Library with a variety of information. The Photo Galley with over 5,000 images will really provide a better understanding of life in the 1930s all across the country.

To look over a full list, go to ‘More Features’ with a collection of oral histories and photos for what life during the New Deal was like. The Civilian Conservation Corps was a major element to the New Deal which provided work for young men, maybe even your grandfather when he was age 21 years old. They worked to improve and create additional state and national parks and forests. Those improvements and changes made over 70 years ago are still enduring in the 21st

Select from several of the categories which are then broken into other sub-divisions. There is also a search box to help in looking for certain locations or work projects.

Get a feel for life during the New Deal by going over the site and talking to any relatives who lived during that time. It can be quite enlightening.

Photo: NRA (National Recovery Administration) poster for the New Deal programs.

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