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Course: US history   >   Unit 7

  • The presidency of Herbert Hoover

The Great Depression

  • FDR and the Great Depression
  • The New Deal
  • The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in US history. It began in 1929 and did not abate until the end of the 1930s.
  • The stock market crash of October 1929 signaled the beginning of the Great Depression. By 1933, unemployment was at 25 percent and more than 5,000 banks had gone out of business.
  • Although President Herbert Hoover attempted to spark growth in the economy through measures like the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, these measures did little to solve the crisis.
  • Franklin Roosevelt was elected president in November 1932. Inaugurated as president in March 1933, Roosevelt’s New Deal offered a new approach to the Great Depression.

The stock market crash of 1929

Hoover's response to the crisis, what do you think, want to join the conversation.

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Great Answer

The Great Depression

This history of the Great Depression was prepared for The Cambridge Economic History of the United States. It describes real and imagined causes of the Depression, bank failures and deflation, the Fed and the gold standard, the start of recovery, the first New Deal, and the second New Deal. I argue that adherence to the gold standard caused the Depression, that abandoning gold started recovery, and that several of the New Deal measures adopted in the recovery lasted in good order for half a century.

  • Acknowledgements and Disclosures

MARC RIS BibTeΧ

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The Great Depression and New Deal: A Very Short Introduction

The Great Depression and New Deal: A Very Short Introduction

The Great Depression and New Deal: A Very Short Introduction

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The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction explores the roots, events, and legacy of the Great Depression and Roosevelt's New Deal. America's post-war laissez-faire economic policies resulted in an economic upheaval of unprecedented severity, to which President Roosevelt responded with a vigorous (and sometimes unconstitutional) set of Depression-fighting economic measures, which were only justifiable in the face of such a global economic disaster. Key New Deal programmes are examined, such as the National Recovery Agency, Public Works Administration, and Social Security, revealing why some worked and others did not.

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The Great Depression

A bread line at Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street, New York City, during the Great Depression

“Regarding the Great Depression, … we did it. We’re very sorry. … We won’t do it again.” —Ben Bernanke, November 8, 2002, in a speech given at “A Conference to Honor Milton Friedman … On the Occasion of His 90th Birthday.”

In 2002, Ben Bernanke , then a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, acknowledged publicly what economists have long believed. The Federal Reserve’s mistakes contributed to the “worst economic disaster in American history” (Bernanke 2002).

Bernanke, like other economic historians, characterized the Great Depression as a disaster because of its length, depth, and consequences. The Depression lasted a decade, beginning in 1929 and ending during World War II. Industrial production plummeted. Unemployment soared. Families suffered. Marriage rates fell. The contraction began in the United States and spread around the globe. The Depression was the longest and deepest downturn in the history of the United States and the modern industrial economy.

The Great Depression began in August 1929, when the economic expansion of the Roaring Twenties came to an end. A series of financial crises punctuated the contraction. These crises included a stock market crash in 1929 , a series of regional banking panics in 1930 and 1931 , and a series of national and international financial crises from 1931 through 1933 . The downturn hit bottom in March 1933, when the commercial banking system collapsed and President Roosevelt declared a national banking holiday . 1    Sweeping reforms of the financial system accompanied the economic recovery, which was interrupted by a double-dip recession in 1937 . Return to full output and employment occurred during the Second World War.

To understand Bernanke’s statement, one needs to know what he meant by “we,” “did it,” and “won’t do it again.”

By “we,” Bernanke meant the leaders of the Federal Reserve System. At the start of the Depression, the Federal Reserve’s decision-making structure was decentralized and often ineffective. Each district had a governor who set policies for his district, although some decisions required approval of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, DC. The Board lacked the authority and tools to act on its own and struggled to coordinate policies across districts. The governors and the Board understood the need for coordination; frequently corresponded concerning important issues; and established procedures and programs, such as the Open Market Investment Committee, to institutionalize cooperation. When these efforts yielded consensus, monetary policy could be swift and effective. But when the governors disagreed, districts could and sometimes did pursue independent and occasionally contradictory courses of action.

The governors disagreed on many issues, because at the time and for decades thereafter, experts disagreed about the best course of action and even about the correct conceptual framework for determining optimal policy. Information about the economy became available with long and variable lags. Experts within the Federal Reserve, in the business community, and among policymakers in Washington, DC, had different perceptions of events and advocated different solutions to problems. Researchers debated these issues for decades. Consensus emerged gradually. The views in this essay reflect conclusions expressed in the writings of three recent chairmen, Paul Volcke r, Alan Greenspan , and Ben Bernanke .

By “did it,” Bernanke meant that the leaders of the Federal Reserve implemented policies that they thought were in the public interest. Unintentionally, some of their decisions hurt the economy. Other policies that would have helped were not adopted.

An example of the former is the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates in 1928 and 1929. The Fed did this in an attempt to limit speculation in securities markets. This action slowed economic activity in the United States. Because the international gold standard linked interest rates and monetary policies among participating nations, the Fed’s actions triggered recessions in nations around the globe. The Fed repeated this mistake when responding to the international financial crisis in the fall of 1931. This website explores these issues in greater depth in our entries on the stock market crash of 1929 and the financial crises of 1931 through 1933 .

An example of the latter is the Fed’s failure to act as a lender of last resort during the banking panics that began in the fall of 1930 and ended with the banking holiday in the winter of 1933. This website explores this issue in essays on the banking panics of 1930 to 1931 , the banking acts of 1932 , and the banking holiday of 1933 .

Men study the announcement of jobs at an employment agency during the Great Depression.

One reason that Congress created the Federal Reserve, of course, was to act as a lender of last resort. Why did the Federal Reserve fail in this fundamental task? The Federal Reserve’s leaders disagreed about the best response to banking crises. Some governors subscribed to a doctrine similar to Bagehot’s dictum, which says that during financial panics, central banks should loan funds to solvent financial institutions beset by runs. Other governors subscribed to a doctrine known as real bills. This doctrine indicated that central banks should supply more funds to commercial banks during economic expansions, when individuals and firms demanded additional credit to finance production and commerce, and less during economic contractions, when demand for credit contracted. The real bills doctrine did not definitively describe what to do during banking panics, but many of its adherents considered panics to be symptoms of contractions, when central bank lending should contract. A few governors subscribed to an extreme version of the real bills doctrine labeled “liquidationist.” This doctrine indicated that during financial panics, central banks should stand aside so that troubled financial institutions would fail. This pruning of weak institutions would accelerate the evolution of a healthier economic system. Herbert Hoover’s secretary of treasury, Andrew Mellon, who served on the Federal Reserve Board, advocated this approach. These intellectual tensions and the Federal Reserve’s ineffective decision-making structure made it difficult, and at times impossible, for the Fed’s leaders to take effective action.

Among leaders of the Federal Reserve, differences of opinion also existed about whether to help and how much assistance to extend to financial institutions that did not belong to the Federal Reserve. Some leaders thought aid should only be extended to commercial banks that were members of the Federal Reserve System. Others thought member banks should receive assistance substantial enough to enable them to help their customers, including financial institutions that did not belong to the Federal Reserve, but the advisability and legality of this pass-through assistance was the subject of debate. Only a handful of leaders thought the Federal Reserve (or federal government) should directly aid commercial banks (or other financial institutions) that did not belong to the Federal Reserve. One advocate of widespread direct assistance was  Eugene Meyer , governor of the Federal Reserve Board, who was instrumental in the creation of the  Reconstruction Finance Corporation .

These differences of opinion contributed to the Federal Reserve’s most serious sin of omission: failure to stem the decline in the supply of money. From the fall of 1930 through the winter of 1933, the money supply fell by nearly 30 percent. The declining supply of funds reduced average prices by an equivalent amount. This deflation increased debt burdens; distorted economic decision-making; reduced consumption; increased unemployment; and forced banks, firms, and individuals into bankruptcy. The deflation stemmed from the collapse of the banking system, as explained in the essay on the  banking panics of 1930 and 1931 .

The Federal Reserve could have prevented deflation by preventing the collapse of the banking system or by counteracting the collapse with an expansion of the monetary base, but it failed to do so for several reasons. The economic collapse was unforeseen and unprecedented. Decision makers lacked effective mechanisms for determining what went wrong and lacked the authority to take actions sufficient to cure the economy. Some decision makers misinterpreted signals about the state of the economy, such as the nominal interest rate, because of their adherence to the real bills philosophy. Others deemed defending the gold standard by raising interests and reducing the supply of money and credit to be better for the economy than aiding ailing banks with the opposite actions.

On several occasions, the Federal Reserve did implement policies that modern monetary scholars believe could have stemmed the contraction. In the spring of 1931, the Federal Reserve began to expand the monetary base, but the expansion was insufficient to offset the deflationary effects of the banking crises. In the spring of 1932, after Congress provided the Federal Reserve with the necessary authority, the Federal Reserve expanded the monetary base aggressively. The policy appeared effective initially, but after a few months the Federal Reserve changed course. A series of political and international shocks hit the economy, and the contraction resumed. Overall, the Fed’s efforts to end the deflation and resuscitate the financial system, while well intentioned and based on the best available information, appear to have been too little and too late.

The flaws in the Federal Reserve’s structure became apparent during the initial years of the Great Depression. Congress responded by reforming the Federal Reserve and the entire financial system. Under the Hoover administration, congressional reforms culminated in the  Reconstruction Finance Corporation Act and the Banking Act of 1932 . Under the Roosevelt administration, reforms culminated in the  Emergency Banking Act of 1933 , the  Banking Act of 1933 (commonly called Glass-Steagall) , the  Gold Reserve Act of 1934 , and the  Banking Act of 1935 . This legislation shifted some of the Federal Reserve’s responsibilities to the Treasury Department and to new federal agencies such as the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. These agencies dominated monetary and banking policy until the 1950s.

The reforms of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s turned the Federal Reserve into a modern central bank. The creation of the modern intellectual framework underlying economic policy took longer and continues today. The Fed’s combination of a well-designed central bank and an effective conceptual framework enabled Bernanke to state confidently that “we won’t do it again.”

  • 1  These business cycle dates come from the National Bureau of Economic Research . Additional materials on the Federal Reserve can be found at the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Bibliography

Bernanke, Ben. Essays on the Great Depression . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Bernanke, Ben, “ On Milton Friedman's Ninetieth Birthday ," Remarks by Governor Ben S. Bernanke at the Conference to Honor Milton Friedman, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, November 8, 2002.

Chandler, Lester V. American Monetary Policy, 1928 to 1941 . New York: Harper and Row, 1971.

Chandler, Lester V. American’s Greatest Depression, 1929-1941 . New York: Harper Collins, 1970.

Eichengreen, Barry. “The Origins and Nature of the Great Slump Revisited.” Economic History Review 45, no. 2 (May 1992): 213–239.

Friedman, Milton and Anna Schwartz. A Monetary History of the United States: 1867-1960 . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963.

Kindleberger, Charles P. The World in Depression, 1929-1939 : Revised and Enlarged Edition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.

Meltzer, Allan. A History of the Federal Reserve: Volume 1, 1913 to 1951 . Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Romer, Christina D. “The Nation in Depression.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 7, no. 2 (1993): 19-39.

Temin, Peter. Lessons from the Great Depression (Lionel Robbins Lectures) . Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989.

Written as of November 22, 2013. See disclaimer .

Essays in this Time Period

  • Bank Holiday of 1933
  • Banking Act of 1933 (Glass-Steagall)
  • Banking Act of 1935
  • Banking Acts of 1932
  • Banking Panics of 1930-31
  • Banking Panics of 1931-33
  • Stock Market Crash of 1929
  • Emergency Banking Act of 1933
  • Gold Reserve Act of 1934
  • Recession of 1937–38
  • Roosevelt's Gold Program

Federal Reserve History

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Great Depression Research Paper Topics

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In this comprehensive guide on Great Depression research paper topics , we delve into the fascinating world of one of the most significant economic crises in history. As students studying history and assigned to write a research paper, it is essential to explore a wide range of engaging and thought-provoking topics related to the Great Depression. This page offers a comprehensive list of Great Depression research paper topics, an article on the Great Depression and its impact, expert advice on topic selection, tips on writing an effective research paper, and information about iResearchNet’s writing services. By following this guide, you will gain valuable insights and resources to unleash your potential and excel in your Great Depression research papers.

100 Great Depression Research Paper Topics

The Great Depression was a period of immense economic turmoil that gripped the world in the 1930s. It left a profound impact on various aspects of society and shaped the course of history. As a student of history, delving into the depths of this significant era provides a multitude of research opportunities. In this section, we present a comprehensive list of Great Depression research paper topics, divided into ten categories. These topics encompass a wide range of subjects and perspectives, allowing you to explore different facets of this transformative period.

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Economic Causes and Effects:

  • The Stock Market Crash of 1929: Causes, Consequences, and Lessons Learned
  • Banking Failures and the Collapse of the Financial System during the Great Depression
  • Unemployment and its Social and Economic Implications during the Great Depression
  • The Role of Government Policies in Shaping the Economic Landscape of the Great Depression
  • The Impact of International Trade and Protectionism on the Global Economy during the Great Depression
  • Changes in Monetary and Fiscal Policy Approaches in Response to the Great Depression
  • Economic Inequality and the Great Depression: Examining the Disparities
  • The Role of Consumer Spending and Investment Patterns in Shaping the Great Depression
  • Economic Recovery Efforts and the Effectiveness of New Deal Programs
  • Comparative Analysis of the Great Depression with Other Economic Crises

Social Impact and Cultural Changes:

  • Poverty and Homelessness in the Great Depression: Causes, Experiences, and Responses
  • Gender Roles and Women’s Experiences during the Great Depression
  • African Americans and the Great Depression: Struggles, Activism, and Cultural Expression
  • Art and Literature as Responses to the Great Depression: Depictions of Hardships and Resilience
  • Social Movements and Labor Unions during the Great Depression: Strikes, Protests, and Reforms
  • The Role of Education and Intellectual Life during the Great Depression
  • Migration and Mobility during the Great Depression: Impact on Communities and Culture
  • The Influence of Music and Entertainment on Society during the Great Depression
  • Changes in Family Dynamics and Relationships during the Great Depression
  • Public Health and Social Welfare Systems during the Great Depression: Challenges and Reforms

Government Interventions and Policies:

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal: Analyzing its Objectives, Implementation, and Results
  • Role of the Federal Reserve in the Great Depression: Monetary Policy and Regulation
  • Social Security Act of 1935: Origins, Implementation, and Long-Term Impact
  • Agricultural Adjustment Act and its Effects on the Farming Community
  • The National Industrial Recovery Act: Assessing its Goals, Strategies, and Legacy
  • The Works Progress Administration (WPA): Job Creation and Infrastructure Projects
  • The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC): Environmental Conservation during the Great Depression
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): Regulating Financial Markets after the Crash
  • The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA): Providing Relief to the Needy
  • The Role of International Organizations and Agreements in Addressing the Global Effects of the Great Depression

Global Perspectives:

  • The Global Spread and Impact of the Great Depression: Comparative Analysis
  • The Great Depression in Europe: Causes, Effects, and Recovery Strategies
  • The Great Depression and the Rise of Fascism: Examining the Interconnections
  • Latin America’s Experience of the Great Depression: Economic Challenges and Political Shifts
  • The Great Depression in Asia: Exploring Economic, Social, and Political Transformations
  • The Role of International Financial Institutions in Mitigating the Global Effects of the Great Depression
  • The Impact of Colonialism and Imperialism on Economic Vulnerability during the Great Depression
  • The Great Depression and International Relations: Shifting Power Dynamics and Diplomatic Challenges
  • Lessons Learned from the Great Depression: Policy Recommendations for Future Economic Crises
  • Historical Comparisons: Assessing the Great Depression in Relation to Other Global Economic Downturns

Psychological and Social Welfare:

  • Psychological Impact of the Great Depression on Individuals and Communities
  • Mental Health Services and the Understanding of Mental Illness during the Great Depression
  • The Role of Charity and Philanthropy in Assisting those Affected by the Great Depression
  • Social Welfare Programs and Relief Efforts: Examining their Design and Effectiveness
  • The Influence of Social Work and Social Workers during the Great Depression
  • The Role of Religion and Faith-Based Organizations in Providing Support during the Great Depression
  • The Impact of Childhood Experiences during the Great Depression: Long-Term Effects
  • Social Assistance and Relief Programs: Comparing Strategies and Approaches
  • Social Movements and Grassroots Activism for Social Justice during the Great Depression
  • The Influence of Public Opinion and Mass Media on Social Welfare Policies

Impact on Specific Industries:

  • The Automobile Industry during the Great Depression: Challenges, Innovations, and Recovery
  • Impact of the Great Depression on the Banking and Financial Sector
  • Film Industry during the Great Depression: Entertainment and Escapism in Troubled Times
  • The Construction Industry during the Great Depression: Infrastructure Development and Public Works Projects
  • The Impact of the Great Depression on the Textile and Manufacturing Industries
  • Changes in the Agricultural Sector during the Great Depression: Farming Practices and Government Interventions
  • Mining and Natural Resource Industries during the Great Depression: Challenges and Adaptations
  • The Role of Labor Unions in Protecting Workers’ Rights during the Great Depression
  • Impact of the Great Depression on the Shipping and Maritime Industry
  • The Aviation Industry during the Great Depression: Technological Advances and Commercial Aviation Expansion

Political Climate and Leadership:

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Leadership during the Great Depression: Policies and Legacy
  • Opposition and Criticisms of New Deal Programs: Political Debates and Alternative Proposals
  • Role of Political Parties and Electoral Shifts during the Great Depression
  • Populist Movements and Responses to Economic Hardships: The Influence of Radical Politics
  • The Role of Women in Politics during the Great Depression: Activism and Reform Efforts
  • The Impact of the Great Depression on the Presidency and the Executive Branch
  • Socialism, Communism, and the Great Depression: Ideological Shifts and Debates
  • The Role of the Supreme Court in Shaping New Deal Policies and their Constitutionality
  • The Influence of International Relations and Geopolitics on National Responses to the Great Depression
  • Political Movements and Grassroots Activism during the Great Depression: Lessons for Today

Cultural and Artistic Responses:

  • Literature of the Great Depression: Themes, Styles, and Authors
  • Visual Arts during the Great Depression: Depictions of Hardship and Social Commentary
  • Music and the Great Depression: Exploring Jazz, Blues, and Folk Music Movements
  • Theatre and Performance Arts during the Great Depression: Escapism and Social Critique
  • Photography and Documentary Projects: Capturing the Realities of the Great Depression
  • Radio and Broadcasting during the Great Depression: Entertainment and News Dissemination
  • The Influence of Hollywood Films on Popular Culture during the Great Depression
  • Dance and Dance Halls during the Great Depression: Cultural Expression and Social Gathering
  • Sports and Athletics during the Great Depression: Resilience and National Identity
  • Fashion and Popular Culture Trends during the Great Depression: Reflections of Social Change

Regional Perspectives:

  • The Great Depression in the United States: Regional Variations and Local Impacts
  • The Great Depression in Rural Communities: Challenges and Agricultural Adjustments
  • Urban Areas during the Great Depression: Impact on Cities, Migration, and Community Dynamics
  • The Great Depression in Europe: Regional Responses and Recovery Strategies
  • The Great Depression in Asia: Regional Economic Shifts and Political Unrest
  • Latin America’s Experience of the Great Depression: Economic Policies and Social Transformations
  • The Great Depression in Africa: Colonial Economies and Indigenous Responses
  • The Impact of the Great Depression on the Caribbean: Trade, Tourism, and Political Instability
  • The Great Depression in the Middle East: Oil, Colonialism, and Economic Resilience
  • The Great Depression in Oceania: Impacts on Indigenous Communities and Trade Relations

Lessons Learned and Legacy:

  • Economic Policies and Regulations Implemented Post-Great Depression: Analysis and Evaluation
  • The Great Depression’s Influence on Modern Economic Thought and Macroeconomic Theory
  • The Great Depression and the Formation of International Financial Institutions
  • Comparative Analysis of the Great Depression with Subsequent Economic Crises
  • The Long-Term Social and Economic Consequences of the Great Depression
  • Historical Reflections on the Lasting Impact of the Great Depression: Lessons for Today
  • The Great Depression’s Influence on Government Intervention and Social Welfare Programs
  • The Role of Economic Forecasting and Risk Management in Post-Great Depression Policies
  • The Great Depression and Changes in Economic Theory and Policy Approaches
  • Evaluating the Successes and Failures of Recovery Efforts during the Great Depression

This comprehensive list of Great Depression research paper topics offers a diverse array of subjects for exploration and analysis. Whether you are interested in the economic, social, cultural, political, or regional aspects of this era, there is a topic to suit your research interests. By selecting a topic from this list, you can delve into the complexities of the Great Depression, uncovering its causes, effects, and the lessons it holds for the present and future.

The Great Depression: Exploring its Impact and Historical Significance

The Great Depression stands as one of the most transformative periods in modern history, leaving an indelible mark on societies around the world. This 2000-word article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the Great Depression, its historical context, and its profound significance. By delving into the range of Great Depression research paper topics, we can gain valuable insights into the causes and effects of the economic collapse, its social impact, and the government responses that shaped the path to recovery. Through the study of the Great Depression, we can better understand the complexities of economic systems, social inequality, and the role of government intervention in times of crisis.

  • The Historical Context : The article begins by setting the stage for the Great Depression, exploring the economic prosperity of the 1920s, the underlying factors that contributed to the collapse, and the global context in which it unfolded. It highlights the interconnectedness of economies and the far-reaching consequences of the financial downturn.
  • The Causes of the Great Depression : This section delves into the causes of the Great Depression, examining factors such as the stock market crash of 1929, the unsustainable economic practices of the time, and the impact of international events. It explores the intricate web of circumstances that led to the onset of the devastating economic downturn.
  • The Effects of the Great Depression : Here, we explore the wide-ranging effects of the Great Depression on individuals, families, businesses, and entire nations. We discuss the soaring unemployment rates, widespread poverty, loss of homes and farms, and the resulting social and psychological impact on affected communities. The section also highlights the global ramifications, including a decline in international trade, financial instability, and political shifts.
  • Social Impact and Cultural Changes : The Great Depression had a profound impact on society, reshaping social norms, cultural attitudes, and the fabric of communities. This section explores the challenges faced by various social groups, such as women, minorities, and workers. It discusses the emergence of social movements, the role of art and literature as responses to the crisis, and the cultural shifts that took place during this period.
  • Government Responses and Policies : The government responses to the Great Depression played a critical role in shaping the trajectory of recovery. This section examines the policies implemented by governments around the world, focusing on notable initiatives such as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the United States. It analyzes the effectiveness of these policies, their impact on the economy and society, and the enduring legacy of government intervention.
  • Economic Systems and Lessons Learned : The Great Depression prompted a reevaluation of economic systems and theories. This section explores the debates surrounding capitalism, socialism, and the role of government regulation. It discusses the long-term implications of the Great Depression on economic thought, policy approaches, and the establishment of social safety nets.
  • Social Inequality and Social Justice : Studying the Great Depression provides an opportunity to examine the deep-rooted issues of social inequality and the pursuit of social justice. This section explores the unequal distribution of wealth and resources during the period, the impact on marginalized communities, and the subsequent efforts to address systemic inequalities. It also examines the role of labor unions and their fight for worker rights during this tumultuous time.
  • Government Intervention and the Role of Institutions : The Great Depression led to a significant expansion of government intervention and the establishment of new institutions. This section examines the role of institutions such as the Federal Reserve, the creation of social welfare programs, and the impact of regulatory bodies. It evaluates the lasting effects of these interventions on economic stability, social welfare, and the relationship between the government and the private sector.
  • Global Impact and International Relations : The Great Depression had a profound effect on the global stage, reshaping international relations and sparking geopolitical shifts. This section explores how different countries were affected by the economic downturn and how it influenced their foreign policies. It also examines the efforts to address the global economic crisis through international cooperation and the establishment of institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
  • Lessons Learned and Legacy : In this final section, we reflect on the lessons learned from the Great Depression and its enduring legacy. It discusses the reforms and regulations implemented to prevent a similar economic catastrophe in the future, the importance of financial regulation, and the significance of social safety nets. It also examines the long-term impact on economic policies, the role of the government in managing economic crises, and the relevance of studying the Great Depression in the modern world.

The Great Depression stands as a defining moment in history, with profound implications for economic, social, and political systems. By studying the causes, effects, social impact, and government responses of this period, we gain valuable insights into the complexities of economic systems, social inequality, and the role of government intervention. Exploring the range of Great Depression research paper topics allows us to deepen our understanding of this transformative era and its relevance to contemporary society.

How to Choose Great Depression Research Paper Topics

Selecting an engaging and meaningful research topic is crucial when delving into the realm of Great Depression studies. This section provides valuable guidance on how to choose the most suitable research paper topic that aligns with your interests, academic goals, and the significance of this historical period. By following these ten tips, you can navigate through the vast array of potential Great Depression research paper topics and identify a research question that allows for a comprehensive exploration of the Great Depression.

  • Reflect on Personal Interests : Begin by considering your personal interests within the broader context of the Great Depression. Reflect on aspects such as social history, economic policies, cultural impact, or political responses. Exploring Great Depression research paper topics that resonate with your passion will ensure a deeper engagement and motivation throughout the research process.
  • Conduct Preliminary Research : Engage in preliminary research to familiarize yourself with the existing scholarship on the Great Depression. This will help you identify gaps in the literature and uncover potential avenues for further investigation. Consult academic journals, books, and reputable online sources to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current scholarly discourse.
  • Focus on Specific Regions or Time Periods : The Great Depression had a global impact, affecting different regions in unique ways. Consider narrowing your research focus to a specific country, region, or even a particular community. This allows for a more nuanced analysis and provides an opportunity to examine localized experiences and responses to the economic crisis.
  • Analyze Primary and Secondary Sources : Utilize both primary and secondary sources to gather evidence and support your research. Primary sources, such as letters, diaries, government records, and newspapers from the period, offer firsthand accounts and insights. Secondary sources, including scholarly articles and books, provide critical analysis and interpretations of the Great Depression.
  • Explore Different Aspects of the Great Depression : The Great Depression is a multi-faceted historical event that impacted various spheres of life. Consider exploring different aspects, such as the economic causes, social consequences, political responses, cultural expressions, or international relations. By delving into different dimensions, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of the era.
  • Examine the Impact on Different Social Groups : The Great Depression affected people from all walks of life differently. Explore the experiences of various social groups, such as women, racial and ethnic minorities, farmers, workers, and the urban poor. Investigate how these groups navigated through the economic crisis and the impact it had on their lives.
  • Analyze Government Policies and Programs : Government responses played a significant role in addressing the Great Depression. Choose a research topic that focuses on specific government policies, programs, or initiatives implemented during this time. Analyze their effectiveness, impact on the economy and society, and the long-term consequences of these interventions.
  • Investigate Cultural Responses and Artistic Expressions : The Great Depression fostered a wealth of cultural responses, including literature, music, photography, and visual arts. Explore the cultural expressions of the era and their reflection of the social and economic climate. Analyze the works of artists, writers, and musicians to understand how they captured the experiences and emotions of the time.
  • Consider Comparative Analysis : Comparative analysis allows for a deeper understanding of the Great Depression by examining similarities and differences between different countries, regions, or time periods. Compare the economic, social, and political responses of multiple nations or explore the impact of the Great Depression on different continents.
  • Engage with Historiographical Debates : The study of the Great Depression is dynamic, with ongoing debates and reinterpretations of historical events and their significance. Choose a research topic that engages with these historiographical debates and contributes to the scholarly discourse. By exploring conflicting interpretations, you can develop a nuanced understanding of the complexities surrounding the Great Depression.

Choosing a research topic on the Great Depression requires careful consideration and a thoughtful approach. By reflecting on personal interests, conducting preliminary research, focusing on specific regions or time periods, analyzing primary and secondary sources, and exploring various aspects and social groups, you can identify a research question that aligns with your interests and academic goals. Engaging with government policies, cultural expressions, and comparative analysis provides further avenues for exploration. Remember to contribute to historiographical debates and approach your research with critical thinking and analytical skills. By following these ten tips, you will be well-equipped to embark on a successful research journey into the depths of the Great Depression.

How to Write a Great Depression Research Paper

Writing a research paper on the Great Depression requires careful planning, thorough research, and effective communication of your findings. This section provides valuable guidance on how to structure and write a successful research paper that showcases your understanding of this significant historical period. By following these ten tips, you can craft a compelling and insightful paper on the Great Depression.

  • Formulate a Clear Thesis Statement : Start your research paper with a clear and concise thesis statement that articulates the main argument or focus of your study. The thesis statement should guide your research and provide a roadmap for your paper, ensuring coherence and direction throughout.
  • Conduct In-Depth Research : Engage in thorough research to gather relevant and reliable sources that support your thesis statement. Utilize primary and secondary sources to gain a comprehensive understanding of the Great Depression, its causes, impact, and historical context. Take notes and organize your research material for easy reference.
  • Analyze Primary and Secondary Sources : Carefully analyze the primary and secondary sources you have collected. Critically evaluate the credibility, biases, and limitations of each source. Extract key information and evidence that supports your thesis and provides a robust foundation for your arguments.
  • Outline Your Paper : Create a clear and detailed outline that serves as a roadmap for your research paper. Organize your main points, arguments, and supporting evidence in a logical and coherent manner. The outline will help you maintain focus, structure your paper, and ensure a smooth flow of ideas.
  • Develop a Strong Introduction : Craft an engaging introduction that captures the reader’s attention and provides context for your research. Clearly state your thesis statement and provide a brief overview of the main points you will discuss in your paper. Set the tone for your research and highlight the significance of studying the Great Depression.
  • Present a Coherent Argument : Structure your paper around a well-developed argument that supports your thesis statement. Present your main points in a logical sequence, providing evidence and analysis to support each claim. Ensure that your arguments flow smoothly and are interconnected, building a coherent narrative throughout your paper.
  • Analyze Primary and Secondary Sources : Integrate your analysis of primary and secondary sources into your research paper. Use direct quotes, paraphrasing, and summarization techniques to incorporate evidence from your sources. Analyze the sources critically, demonstrating your ability to interpret and evaluate historical material.
  • Provide Historical Context : Situate your research within the historical context of the Great Depression. Provide background information, discuss relevant events, policies, and social conditions that influenced the period. Help your readers understand the broader significance of your research and its relationship to the historical context.
  • Use Clear and Concise Language : Write in a clear and concise manner, avoiding unnecessary jargon or complex language. Ensure that your ideas are easily understandable and your arguments are well-articulated. Use proper grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure to enhance the clarity and readability of your paper.
  • Conclude with a Strong Summary : End your research paper with a strong and concise summary that restates your thesis statement and highlights the key findings of your study. Emphasize the significance of your research and its contribution to the understanding of the Great Depression. Reflect on the implications and broader lessons that can be drawn from your analysis.

Writing a research paper on the Great Depression requires careful planning, thorough research, and effective communication of your findings. By formulating a clear thesis statement, conducting in-depth research, and analyzing primary and secondary sources, you can develop a strong foundation for your paper. Organizing your thoughts with a well-structured outline, crafting an engaging introduction, and presenting a coherent argument will ensure a compelling and insightful research paper. Remember to provide historical context, use clear and concise language, and conclude with a strong summary that highlights the significance of your research. By following these ten tips, you will be well-prepared to write a comprehensive and impactful research paper on the Great Depression.

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great depression research paper introduction

The History of Great Depression Research Paper

Introduction.

The Great Depression was one of the most meaningful and devastating events of the 20th century. It affected every person in the United States and other countries, no matter their status, money, or job.

The collapse happening was influenced by the consequences of World War I and other factors that combined at that time. The Great Depression was a highly significant and destructive event caused by multiple factors, ending in a shift in the whole world and every structure and changing Americans’ attitude toward the government. The Great Depression was the most severe recession of the past centuries. It affected the whole world and lasted for approximately 12 years.

Field claims that gross domestic production (GDP) fell by 30%, almost half of the banks in the United States collapsed, and about 25% of the population became jobless during the Great Depression (para 1). Unemployment insurance did not exist at that time, and no one was prepared for these events, and it became a disaster for millions of people. Kiger states that the Great Depression affected everyone, from investors who became bankrupt overnight to clerks and factory workers who became unemployed (para 1).

The event influenced every person despite their status or profession.

Thus, the Great Depression was a devastating event that affected everyone.

It is believed that the reason for the recession was the market collapse in 1929; however, it is not. There was no one exact reason for the collapse happening.

Field claims that the genuine reason for the event was a combination of different factors, such as ill-timed tariffs and misguided moves (para 2).

Thus, the Great Depression had predispositions and was provoked by many factors.

Moreover, Segal, Cheng. et al. affirm that “inactivity followed by overaction by the Fed also contributed to the Great Depression” (para 6).

After the eight-year inactivity, Fed, the central US banking system, drastically increased the money supply, which influenced the economy and became a predisposition for the collapse. Thus, there were several factors that contributed to the Great Depression happening. Furthermore, it is believed that the consequences of World War I also caused the Great Depression. The world experienced a crisis and tried to stabilize the economy.

Kiger states that after the war, the level of consumption increased, which brought wealth to many businesses (para 9). However, this also made them vulnerable to any changes in consumers’ preferences.

Kiger adds that the economy throughout the world was unstable and many connections were broken, and cooperation between many countries stopped (para 9). This led to exaggerating the problem with the economy and made all the businesses unstable and at constant risk of bankruptcy. Thus, World War I impacted the collapse severely and destroyed the ability of cooperation among many countries.

The consequences of the Great Depression were deplorable and, meanwhile, significant: it affected people’s lives and their attitudes toward the government. It is hard to determine the exact number of human casualties during that time.

However, Amadeo, Kelly et al. state that the rate of committing suicide increased by 22.8% at that time (para 25). His means that the recession severely affected people’s mental health. Amadeo, Kelly. et al. affirm that in the 1930s, the level of trust in the government reached its peak and was never higher (para 26). Americans believed in the New Deal that was formed after the Great Depression and its decisions. Thus, the collapse changed the population on different levels and shaped its relations with the government.

In conclusion, the Great Depression was a meaningful and devastating event of the 20th century that led to a significant shift in the world and changed the attitude of the US people toward their government. It was caused by a combination of varied factors, such as the consequences of World War I, the Fed overaction, lack of cooperation of many countries, and others. The event made many humans suffer; however, it led to stabilizing the economy and evoked trust and cooperation between the residents and the government.

Works Cited

Amadeo, Kimberly. Kelly, Robert. Jonson, Arron. “ Great Depression: What Happened, Causes, How it Ended. ” 2022.

Field, Anne. “ The Main Causes of the Great Depression, and how the Road to Recovery Transformed the US Economy. ” Insider. 2020

Kiger, Patrick. “ 5 Causes of the Great Depression. ” History. 2022

Segal, Troy. Cheng, Marguerita. Kvilhaug, Suzanne. “ What Was the Great Depression? ” Investopedia. 2022

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IvyPanda . 2022. "The History of Great Depression." August 16, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-history-of-great-depression/.

1. IvyPanda . "The History of Great Depression." August 16, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-history-of-great-depression/.

Bibliography

IvyPanda . "The History of Great Depression." August 16, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-history-of-great-depression/.

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Great Depression History

By: History.com Editors

Updated: October 20, 2023 | Original: October 29, 2009

New York, USA 1931. New Yorkers celebrated Christmas in 1931, with a city-wide solicitude for those touched by misfortune during the year. The Municipal Lodging House fed 10,000 persons, including about 100 women and the Police Glee Club and the Police BNew York, USA, 1931, New Yorkers celebrated Christmas in 1931, with a city-wide solicitude for those touched by misfortune during the year, The Municipal Lodging House fed 10,000 persons, including about 100 women and the Police Glee Club and the Police Band entertained them, Here a line of hungrey men waiting to enter the Municipal Lodging House on East 25th street (Photo by Rolls Press/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

The Great Depression was the worst economic crisis in modern history, lasting from 1929 until the beginning of World War II in 1939. The causes of the Great Depression included slowing consumer demand, mounting consumer debt, decreased industrial production and the rapid and reckless expansion of the U.S. stock market. When the stock market crashed in October 1929, it triggered a crisis in the international economy, which was linked via the gold standard. A rash of bank failures followed in 1930, and as the Dust Bowl increased the number of farm foreclosures, unemployment topped 20 percent by 1933. Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to stimulate the economy with a range of incentives including Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, but ultimately it took the manufacturing production increases of World War II to end the Great Depression.

What Caused the Great Depression?

Throughout the 1920s, the U.S. economy expanded rapidly, and the nation’s total wealth more than doubled between 1920 and 1929, a period dubbed “ the Roaring Twenties .”

The stock market, centered at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New York City , was the scene of reckless speculation, where everyone from millionaire tycoons to cooks and janitors poured their savings into stocks. As a result, the stock market underwent rapid expansion, reaching its peak in August 1929.

By then, production had already declined and unemployment had risen, leaving stock prices much higher than their actual value. Additionally, wages at that time were low, consumer debt was proliferating, the agricultural sector of the economy was struggling due to drought and falling food prices and banks had an excess of large loans that could not be liquidated.

The American economy entered a mild recession during the summer of 1929, as consumer spending slowed and unsold goods began to pile up, which in turn slowed factory production. Nonetheless, stock prices continued to rise, and by the fall of that year had reached stratospheric levels that could not be justified by expected future earnings.

Stock Market Crash of 1929

On October 24, 1929, as nervous investors began selling overpriced shares en masse, the stock market crash that some had feared happened at last. A record 12.9 million shares were traded that day, known as “Black Thursday.”

Five days later, on October 29, or “Black Tuesday,” some 16 million shares were traded after another wave of panic swept Wall Street. Millions of shares ended up worthless, and those investors who had bought stocks “on margin” (with borrowed money) were wiped out completely.

As consumer confidence vanished in the wake of the stock market crash, the downturn in spending and investment led factories and other businesses to slow down production and begin firing their workers. For those who were lucky enough to remain employed, wages fell and buying power decreased.

Many Americans forced to buy on credit fell into debt, and the number of foreclosures and repossessions climbed steadily. The global adherence to the gold standard , which joined countries around the world in fixed currency exchange, helped spread economic woes from the United States throughout the world, especially in Europe.

Bank Runs and the Hoover Administration

Despite assurances from President Herbert Hoover and other leaders that the crisis would run its course, matters continued to get worse over the next three years. By 1930, 4 million Americans looking for work could not find it; that number had risen to 6 million in 1931.

Meanwhile, the country’s industrial production had dropped by half. Bread lines, soup kitchens and rising numbers of homeless people became more and more common in America’s towns and cities. Farmers couldn’t afford to harvest their crops and were forced to leave them rotting in the fields while people elsewhere starved. In 1930, severe droughts in the Southern Plains brought high winds and dust from Texas to Nebraska, killing people, livestock and crops. The “ Dust Bowl ” inspired a mass migration of people from farmland to cities in search of work.

In the fall of 1930, the first of four waves of banking panics began, as large numbers of investors lost confidence in the solvency of their banks and demanded deposits in cash, forcing banks to liquidate loans in order to supplement their insufficient cash reserves on hand.

Bank runs swept the United States again in the spring and fall of 1931 and the fall of 1932, and by early 1933 thousands of banks had closed their doors.

In the face of this dire situation, Hoover’s administration tried supporting failing banks and other institutions with government loans; the idea was that the banks in turn would loan to businesses, which would be able to hire back their employees.

FDR and the Great Depression

Hoover, a Republican who had formerly served as U.S. secretary of commerce, believed that government should not directly intervene in the economy and that it did not have the responsibility to create jobs or provide economic relief for its citizens.

In 1932, however, with the country mired in the depths of the Great Depression and some 15 million people unemployed, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt won an overwhelming victory in the presidential election.

By Inauguration Day (March 4, 1933), every U.S. state had ordered all remaining banks to close at the end of the fourth wave of banking panics, and the U.S. Treasury didn’t have enough cash to pay all government workers. Nonetheless, FDR (as he was known) projected a calm energy and optimism, famously declaring "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Roosevelt took immediate action to address the country’s economic woes, first announcing a four-day “bank holiday” during which all banks would close so that Congress could pass reform legislation and reopen those banks determined to be sound. He also began addressing the public directly over the radio in a series of talks, and these so-called “ fireside chats ” went a long way toward restoring public confidence.

During Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office, his administration passed legislation that aimed to stabilize industrial and agricultural production, create jobs and stimulate recovery.

In addition, Roosevelt sought to reform the financial system, creating the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ( FDIC ) to protect depositors’ accounts and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to regulate the stock market and prevent abuses of the kind that led to the 1929 crash.

The New Deal: A Road to Recovery

Among the programs and institutions of the New Deal that aided in recovery from the Great Depression was the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) , which built dams and hydroelectric projects to control flooding and provide electric power to the impoverished Tennessee Valley region, and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) , a permanent jobs program that employed 8.5 million people from 1935 to 1943.

When the Great Depression began, the United States was the only industrialized country in the world without some form of unemployment insurance or social security. In 1935, Congress passed the Social Security Act , which for the first time provided Americans with unemployment, disability and pensions for old age.

After showing early signs of recovery beginning in the spring of 1933, the economy continued to improve throughout the next three years, during which real GDP (adjusted for inflation) grew at an average rate of 9 percent per year.

A sharp recession hit in 1937, caused in part by the Federal Reserve’s decision to increase its requirements for money in reserve. Though the economy began improving again in 1938, this second severe contraction reversed many of the gains in production and employment and prolonged the effects of the Great Depression through the end of the decade.

Depression-era hardships fueled the rise of extremist political movements in various European countries, most notably that of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany. German aggression led war to break out in Europe in 1939, and the WPA turned its attention to strengthening the military infrastructure of the United States, even as the country maintained its neutrality.

African Americans in the Great Depression

One-fifth of all Americans receiving federal relief during the Great Depression were Black, most in the rural South. But farm and domestic work, two major sectors in which Black workers were employed, were not included in the 1935 Social Security Act, meaning there was no safety net in times of uncertainty. Rather than fire domestic help, private employers could simply pay them less without legal repercussions. And those relief programs for which African Americans were eligible on paper were rife with discrimination in practice since all relief programs were administered locally.

Despite these obstacles, Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet,” led by Mary McLeod Bethune , ensured nearly every New Deal agency had a Black advisor. The number of African Americans working in government tripled .

Women in the Great Depression

There was one group of Americans who actually gained jobs during the Great Depression: Women. From 1930 to 1940, the number of employed women in the United States rose 24 percent from 10.5 million to 13 million Though they’d been steadily entering the workforce for decades, the financial pressures of the Great Depression drove women to seek employment in ever greater numbers as male breadwinners lost their jobs. The 22 percent decline in marriage rates between 1929 and 1939 also created an increase in single women in search of employment.

Women during the Great Depression had a strong advocate in First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt , who lobbied her husband for more women in office—like Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins , the first woman to ever hold a cabinet position.

Jobs available to women paid less but were more stable during the banking crisis: nursing, teaching and domestic work. They were supplanted by an increase in secretarial roles in FDR’s rapidly-expanding government. But there was a catch: over 25 percent of the National Recovery Administration’s wage codes set lower wages for women, and jobs created under the WPA confined women to fields like sewing and nursing that paid less than roles reserved for men.

Married women faced an additional hurdle: By 1940, 26 states had placed restrictions known as marriage bars on their employment, as working wives were perceived as taking away jobs from able-bodied men—even if, in practice, they were occupying jobs men would not want and doing them for far less pay.

Great Depression Ends and World War II Begins

With Roosevelt’s decision to support Britain and France in the struggle against Germany and the other Axis Powers, defense manufacturing geared up, producing more and more private-sector jobs.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 led to America’s entry into World War II, and the nation’s factories went back into full production mode.

This expanding industrial production, as well as widespread conscription beginning in 1942, reduced the unemployment rate to below its pre-Depression level. The Great Depression had ended at last, and the United States turned its attention to the global conflict of World War II.

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  • Great Depression Essays

The Great Depression Essay

The recession of the American economy led to the greatest depression that has never been experienced in the American economic history. The Great Depression, experienced between 1929 and 1932, was a period of extreme hardship in America as it forced Americans to experience an economic crisis which left many jobless and hopeless. It was the worst and longest difficult situation in the country’s economic history that threw many hardworking people into poverty. People lost their homes, farms as well as their businesses (Gunderson 4). The Great Depression led to economic stagnation and widespread unemployment and also the depression was experienced in virtually all in every major industrialized country (Hall and Ferguson 2). The impact of the Great Depression was devastating as many individuals lost their homes because they had no work and a steady income and as a result, most of them were forced to live in makeshift dwellings with poor condition and sanitation. Many children dropped out of school and married women were forced to carry a greater domestic burden. More so, the depression widened the gap between the rich and the poor (Freedman 14) because many poor individuals suffered the hardships during this period while the rich remained unaffected. This paper discusses the period of Great Depression and it covers the life during this time and how the city dwellers, farmers, children and minority groups were affected. The Great Depression started following the occurrence of the Wall Street crash and rapidly spread in different parts of the world; however, some have argued that it was triggered by mistakes in monetary policy and poor government policy (Evans 15). Different hardships and challenges were experience by individuals in different parts of the world with many people left with no work. More so, individuals especially farmers suffered from poverty and low profits, deflation and they had no opportunity for personal and economic growth. Notably, different people were affected differently, for instance, unemployment affected men and they were desperate for work while children were forced to leave school and search for something to do so as to earn money for their family. Farmers were greatly affected because this period led to decrease in price in the prices of their crops and livestock and they still worked hard to produce more so as to pay their debts, taxes and living expenses. The period before this economic crisis, farmers were already losing money due to industrialization in cities and so most of them were renting their land and machinery. When the depression started, prices on food produced by farmers deflated leaving them incapable of making profit and so they stopped selling their farm products and this in turn affected the city dwellers that were unable to produce their own food. Undoubtedly, after the stock market crash, many firms declined and many workers were forced out of their jobs because there were really no jobs. Moreover, many people had no money to purchase commodities and so the consumer demand for manufactured goods reduced significantly. Sadly, individuals had to learn to do without new clothing. The prices dropped significantly leaving farmers bankrupt and as a result most of them lost their farms. Some farmers were angry and desperate proposing that the government should intervene and ensure that farm families remain in their respective homes. But again, farmers were better off than city dwellers because they could produce much of their own food. Many farm families had large gardens with enough food crops and in some families, women made clothes from flour and feed sacks and generally, these farm families learned how to survive with what they have and little money.

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Furthermore, the town and cities suffered too, for instance, as the factories were shutting down following the depression many industrial workers were left jobless. The life in the city was not easy as many individuals lived in overcrowded and unheated houses with poor sanitation. In addition, many firms closed and many individuals lost their jobs and had to deal with the reality of living in poverty. Town families were unable to produce their own food and so many city dwellers often went hungry during this period. During winter, they had hard times overcoming the cold because they had no money to buy coal to warm their houses. During the depression, the known role of women was homemaking because they had a difficult time finding jobs and so the only thing they were supposedly good at was preparing meals for their families and keeping their families together. Some women who managed to have jobs supported their families in overcoming this difficult time. Accordingly, many children were deprived their right to have access to quality education because many societies had to close down their schools due to lack of money. Some of them managed to be in schools but majority dropped out. More so, they suffered from malnutrition and those in rural areas were worse off because with the family’s low income, they were unable to purchase adequate nutritional food for all family members. Many children and even adults died from diseases and malnutrition (Gunderson 4). The minority groups in America especially the African American population who lived in rural areas working on the farms of white owners. Even though they lived in poverty, the Depression made the situation worse as their lived changed completely and remained extremely poor because the farmers they were working for had lost their land. All in all, many families struggled to leave on low incomes or no jobs with many children starving; lacked shelter and clothing as well as medical attention (Freedman 4).

In conclusion, the Great Depression was a tragic time in American history that left many people poor, unemployed or little pay, and children forced to work at a younger age. The Great Depression affected everyone from children to adults, farmers to city dwellers and so everyone’s lives changed drastically by the events experienced during this period. Many individuals were unemployed and remained desperate searching for better lives. In addition, children had no access to quality education as most of them left school and sadly they accompanied their mothers to look for work and search for a new life. However, some people particularly the employers and the wealthy were not affected during this period because they were protected from the depression with their position in the society.

Works Cited

Evans, Paul. “What Caused the Great Depression in the United States?” Managerial Finance 23.2 (1997): 15-24.

Used our essay samples for inspiration ?

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Freedman, Russell. Children of the Great Depression. New York: Clarion Books, 2005. Print.

Gunderson, Cory G. The Great Depression. Edina, Minn: ABDO Pub, 2004. Internet resource.

Hall, Thomas E, and Ferguson J D. The Great Depression: An International Disaster of Perverse Economic Policies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998. Internet resource.

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Essays on Great Depression

Great depression essay topic examples, argumentative essays.

Argumentative essays on the Great Depression require you to take a stance on a specific aspect of this historical event and provide evidence to support your viewpoint. Consider these topic examples:

  • 1. Argue for the primary causes of the Great Depression, emphasizing the role of economic policies, banking practices, and global factors in triggering the crisis.
  • 2. Debate the effectiveness of New Deal programs in alleviating the suffering of Americans during the Great Depression, discussing their long-term impact on the nation's economy and social fabric.

Example Introduction Paragraph for an Argumentative Great Depression Essay: The Great Depression remains a defining moment in American history, marked by economic turmoil and widespread suffering. In this argumentative essay, we will examine the primary causes of the Great Depression, focusing on economic policies, banking practices, and global factors that contributed to this devastating crisis.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for an Argumentative Great Depression Essay: In conclusion, the analysis of the Great Depression's causes underscores the complexity of this historical event. As we reflect on the lessons learned from this era, we are reminded of the importance of sound economic policies and vigilant oversight in preventing future economic crises.

Compare and Contrast Essays

Compare and contrast essays on the Great Depression involve analyzing the similarities and differences between various aspects of the era, such as its impact on different countries or the approaches taken to address the crisis. Consider these topics:

  • 1. Compare and contrast the effects of the Great Depression on the United States and Germany, examining the economic, social, and political consequences in both nations.
  • 2. Analyze and contrast the approaches taken by Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and Adolf Hitler's economic policies in response to the Great Depression, exploring their divergent ideologies and outcomes.

Example Introduction Paragraph for a Compare and Contrast Great Depression Essay: The Great Depression had a global impact, affecting nations differently and prompting diverse responses. In this compare and contrast essay, we will explore the effects of the Great Depression on the United States and Germany, examining the economic, social, and political consequences in both countries.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for a Compare and Contrast Great Depression Essay: In conclusion, the comparison and contrast of the Great Depression's effects on the United States and Germany reveal the profound and lasting consequences of economic crises. As we study these different experiences, we gain insights into the resilience of nations facing adversity.

Descriptive Essays

Descriptive essays on the Great Depression allow you to provide detailed accounts and analysis of specific aspects, events, or individuals during this period. Here are some topic ideas:

  • 1. Describe the everyday life of a typical American family during the Great Depression, detailing their struggles, coping mechanisms, and aspirations for a better future.
  • 2. Paint a vivid picture of a significant event from the Great Depression era, such as the Dust Bowl or a famous protest, discussing its impact on society and the lessons learned.

Example Introduction Paragraph for a Descriptive Great Depression Essay: The Great Depression left an indelible mark on the lives of ordinary Americans, shaping their daily experiences and aspirations. In this descriptive essay, we will delve into the everyday life of a typical American family during this challenging period, exploring their struggles and hopes for a brighter future.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for a Descriptive Great Depression Essay: In conclusion, the descriptive exploration of a typical American family's life during the Great Depression reminds us of the resilience and determination of individuals in the face of adversity. As we reflect on their experiences, we are inspired by their unwavering spirit.

Persuasive Essays

Persuasive essays on the Great Depression involve advocating for specific actions, policies, or changes related to economic recovery, social welfare, or preventing future economic crises. Consider these persuasive topics:

  • 1. Persuade your audience of the importance of implementing social safety net programs to prevent another Great Depression-like economic catastrophe, highlighting the potential benefits and challenges of such initiatives.
  • 2. Advocate for increased financial literacy education in schools as a means to empower individuals with the knowledge and skills to make informed financial decisions, potentially preventing future economic crises.

Example Introduction Paragraph for a Persuasive Great Depression Essay: The lessons of the Great Depression continue to shape economic and social policies today. In this persuasive essay, I will make a compelling case for the implementation of social safety net programs aimed at preventing future economic catastrophes like the Great Depression, emphasizing the potential benefits and challenges of such initiatives.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for a Persuasive Great Depression Essay: In conclusion, the persuasive argument for social safety net programs underscores the importance of proactive measures to safeguard against economic crises. As we advocate for change, we contribute to a more resilient and equitable society.

Narrative Essays

Narrative essays on the Great Depression allow you to share personal stories, experiences, or observations related to this historical period, your family's history during the era, or the impact of the Great Depression on your community. Explore these narrative essay topics:

  • 1. Narrate a family story or anecdote passed down through generations about how your family coped with the challenges of the Great Depression, highlighting the resilience and resourcefulness of your ancestors.
  • 2. Share a personal narrative of how the Great Depression era shaped the values and principles of your community, discussing the lasting impact on your town or neighborhood.

Example Introduction Paragraph for a Narrative Great Depression Essay: The Great Depression was not just a historical event; it was a period that defined the experiences and values of countless individuals and communities. In this narrative essay, I will share a family story that has been passed down through generations, illustrating how my family coped with the challenges of this era and the lasting impact on our values.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for a Narrative Great Depression Essay: In conclusion, the narrative of my family's experience during the Great Depression serves as a reminder of the resilience and resourcefulness that emerged during this challenging period. As we reflect on our history, we find inspiration in the strength of those who came before us.

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1929 - c. 1939

Europe, United States

Franklin D. Roosevelt: As the President of the United States from 1933 to 1945, Roosevelt implemented the New Deal, a series of economic and social programs aimed at alleviating the effects of the Great Depression. John Steinbeck: An influential American author, Steinbeck wrote novels such as "The Grapes of Wrath" (1939), which depicted the plight of migrant workers during the Great Depression. His work shed light on the social and economic injustices faced by many Americans during that time. Dorothea Lange: A renowned documentary photographer, Lange captured powerful images of individuals and families affected by the Great Depression. Her iconic photograph "Migrant Mother" became a symbol of the hardships faced by ordinary Americans. Eleanor Roosevelt: The wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt was a prominent advocate for social and economic reform. She played an active role in promoting the New Deal policies and was a strong voice for marginalized communities during the Great Depression.

The Great Depression, one of the most severe economic crises in history, occurred during the 1930s. It started in the United States with the stock market crash of 1929, often referred to as "Black Tuesday." This event led to a chain reaction of economic downturns worldwide, resulting in high unemployment rates, widespread poverty, and a significant decline in industrial production. The effects of the Great Depression were felt across various sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, and banking.

The Great Depression was preceded by a series of factors that set the stage for its occurrence. In the aftermath of World War I, the global economy experienced a period of instability and rapid growth known as the Roaring Twenties. However, beneath the surface of apparent prosperity, there were underlying vulnerabilities. One of the key factors contributing to the Great Depression was the rampant speculation in the stock market, fueled by easy credit and speculative investments. This speculative bubble eventually burst in October 1929, triggering the stock market crash and initiating a chain reaction of economic collapse. Additionally, international economic imbalances played a role in exacerbating the crisis. Protectionist trade policies, war reparations, and a decline in global trade contributed to a decline in industrial production and widespread unemployment. The collapse of the banking system further deepened the crisis, as bank failures wiped out people's savings and caused a severe liquidity crisis.

Stock Market Crash: On October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday, the stock market experienced a catastrophic crash, signaling the start of the Great Depression. This event led to a massive loss of wealth and investor confidence. Dust Bowl: In the early 1930s, severe drought and poor farming practices led to the Dust Bowl in the Great Plains region of the United States. Dust storms ravaged the land, causing agricultural devastation and mass migration of farmers to seek better opportunities elsewhere. New Deal: In response to the crisis, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented the New Deal, a series of programs and reforms aimed at providing relief, recovery, and reform. This included measures such as the creation of jobs, financial regulations, and social welfare initiatives.

Economic Collapse: The Great Depression plunged the global economy into a severe downturn. Industries faced widespread bankruptcies, trade declined, and unemployment soared. Poverty levels skyrocketed, leaving many families without basic necessities. Social Unrest: The economic hardship led to increased social unrest. Breadlines, shantytowns, and soup kitchens became common sights as people struggled to survive. Homelessness and hunger became prevalent, straining social structures. Global Impact: The Great Depression had a global reach, affecting countries around the world. International trade declined, leading to a sharp decline in exports and imports. This interconnectedness contributed to a worldwide economic slowdown. Political Shifts: The economic crisis paved the way for significant political shifts. Governments faced pressure to address the crisis, resulting in the rise of interventionist policies and increased government involvement in the economy. This gave birth to the concept of the welfare state. Cultural and Artistic Expression: The Great Depression influenced art, literature, and music, reflecting the hardships and struggles of the era. Artists and writers depicted the human suffering and the search for hope amid despair.

Literature: John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath" (1939) is a powerful depiction of the Great Depression's impact on migrant workers in the United States. It follows the Joad family as they face poverty, displacement, and exploitation while searching for a better life. The book explores themes of resilience, social injustice, and the human spirit in the face of adversity. Photography: The Farm Security Administration (FSA) hired photographers, including Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, to document the effects of the Great Depression. Their iconic photographs, such as Lange's "Migrant Mother," captured the hardships faced by rural communities, evoking empathy and raising awareness about the human toll of the economic crisis. Films: Movies like "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940) and "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) depicted the struggles and resilience of individuals and communities during the Great Depression. These films offered social commentary, showcased the impact of economic hardship, and explored themes of hope, perseverance, and the importance of human connections. Music: Artists like Woody Guthrie composed folk songs that reflected the experiences of those affected by the Great Depression. Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" and "Dust Bowl Blues" expressed the struggles of the working class and the desire for a more equitable society. Art: Painters such as Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton created works that captured the hardships and rural landscapes of the Great Depression. Wood's painting "American Gothic" became an iconic representation of the era, symbolizing the resilience and determination of the American people.

1. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States dropped by approximately 30% during the Great Depression. 2. Between 1929 and 1932, over 9,000 banks in the United States failed, causing immense financial instability. 3. The poverty rate in the United States surged during the Great Depression. By 1933, around 15 million Americans, representing approximately 30% of the population at that time, were living below the poverty line.

The topic of the Great Depression holds significant importance as it marks a critical period in global history that profoundly impacted economies, societies, and individuals worldwide. Exploring this topic in an essay provides valuable insights into the causes, consequences, and responses to one of the most severe economic downturns in modern times. Understanding the Great Depression is essential to grasp the complexities of economic cycles, financial systems, and government policies. It allows us to reflect on the vulnerabilities of economies and the potential ramifications of economic crises. Moreover, studying the Great Depression enables us to analyze the various social, political, and cultural transformations that took place during that era, including the rise of social welfare programs, labor movements, and governmental interventions. By delving into this topic, we gain valuable lessons about resilience, adaptability, and the role of leadership during challenging times. Exploring the experiences of individuals and communities during the Great Depression also helps us empathize with their struggles and appreciate the importance of collective efforts to overcome adversity.

1. Bernanke, B. S. (1983). Nonmonetary effects of the financial crisis in the propagation of the Great Depression. The American Economic Review, 73(3), 257-276. 2. Eichengreen, B. (1992). Golden fetters: The gold standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939. Oxford University Press. 3. McElvaine, R. S. (1993). The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941. Times Books. 4. Rothbard, M. N. (2000). America's Great Depression. Ludwig von Mises Institute. 5. Badger, A. J. (2014). The Great Depression as a revolution. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 44(2), 156-174. 6. Temin, P. (2010). The Great Depression: Lessons for macroeconomic policy today. MIT Press. 7. Kennedy, D. M. (1999). Freedom from fear: The American people in depression and war, 1929-1945. Oxford University Press. 8. Leuchtenburg, W. E. (2015). The FDR years: On Roosevelt and his legacy. Columbia University Press. 9. Roth, B. (2017). The causes and consequences of the Great Depression. OpenStax. 10. Galbraith, J. K. (1997). The Great Crash, 1929. Houghton Mifflin.

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Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide

Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on March 27, 2023.

Writing a Research Paper Introduction

The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:

  • Present your topic and get the reader interested
  • Provide background or summarize existing research
  • Position your own approach
  • Detail your specific research problem and problem statement
  • Give an overview of the paper’s structure

The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.

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Table of contents

Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.

The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.

For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:

A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:

Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.

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This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.

In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.

Argumentative paper: Background information

After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.

Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .

Empirical paper: Describing previous research

For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.

This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.

Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.

The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.

Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance

In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.

Empirical paper: Relate to the literature

In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:

  • What research gap is your work intended to fill?
  • What limitations in previous work does it address?
  • What contribution to knowledge does it make?

You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.

Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.

The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).

Argumentative paper: Thesis statement

The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.

Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis

The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.

Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.

A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.

  • This study set out to answer the following question: What effects does daily use of Instagram have on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls?
  • We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls.

If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.

For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:

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The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.

In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.

If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.

  • This paper will first discuss several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then will go on to …
  • This paper first discusses several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then goes on to …

Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.

  • Argumentative paper
  • Empirical paper

Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.

The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

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    Table of contents. Step 1: Introduce your topic. Step 2: Describe the background. Step 3: Establish your research problem. Step 4: Specify your objective (s) Step 5: Map out your paper. Research paper introduction examples. Frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.