21H.209 | Spring 2012 | Undergraduate

America in Depression and War


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


This course examines the transforming effect of two cataclysmic events in the twentieth century: the Great Depression and World War II. We will study the ways they both led to a major reordering of American politics and society. By focusing on how the government and the country dealt with these national crises, we will explore a significant moment in the evolution of American political culture. Throughout the semester, we will examine how ordinary people experienced depression and war and how those experiences changed their outlook on politics and the world around them. Topics include unemployment and economic decline, the rise of organized labor, New Deal politics, women in the war effort, the Japanese internment, the development of atomic science, and America as a world superpower.

This class will consist of a combination of lectures and discussions. You will be required to do the reading in advance and come prepared to talk about what you have read. To help facilitate discussion, occasionally you will gather primary documents from the library and/or the web. Class participation will count for 20%. In addition, you will also have two in-class tests each worth 20%. In addition, you must also write a 15-page research paper (40%).


Class participation 20%
In-class tests (2) 40% (20% each)
Research paper 40%


1 Breadlines to Atom Bombs  
The Great Depression
2 The End of Prosperity  
3 The End of Prosperity (cont.)  
4 The Unemployed  
The New Deal
5 Roosevelt’s 100 Days  
6 Roosevelt’s 100 Days (cont.)  
7 Strikes and Struggles  
8 Strikes and Struggles (cont.)  
9 New Deal Order  
10 One Best Source Presentations  
11 Exam #1 Exam #1
World War II at Home
12 Mobilizing for Victory  
13 Mobilizing for Victory (cont.)  
14 Gender and Race in Wartime  
15 Gender and Race in Wartime (cont.)  
World War II Abroad
16 D-Day  
17 Hiroshima  
18 Hiroshima (cont.)  
19 Legacies of Depression and War  
20 Exam #2 Exam #2
21 How to Write A Good Paper  
22 Research Presentations  
23 Research Presentations (cont.)  
24 Research Papers Due  

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2012