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This Month in Business History

The New Deal at 80+

Ellen Terrell
Business Reference Specialist
May 2009
Reviewed: November 2013

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The "New Deal" is a collection of legislation in various areas passed at various times and collectively called the "New Deal." Prior to the new deal was the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) chartered by the Herbert Hoover administration in 1932. Aid was given to state and local governments and loans were made to banks, railroads, farm mortgage associations, and other businesses.


National Recovery Administration (NRA) Blue Eagle
Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

The Economy Act passed on March 15, 1933, cut millions of the federal budget by cutting federal salaries 15% and cutting veteran pension rolls of those veterans who were not disabled. There was also the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) that was passed on June 16, 1933 which established the National Recovery Administration and encouraged government spending on public works projects but was overturned by the Supreme Court in May 1935 with the case Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States.

Unlike the Economy Act and the National Industrial Recovery Act, much of the New Deal legislation created actual government programs and federal agencies — many of which are still very much a part of modern America. One of the most well known is the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). The genesis of the SEC began with the crash of the stock market in 1929 which led to Congress passing the Securities Act of 1933 [PDF format: 241 KB/ 58 p.] and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The SEC "was designed to restore investor confidence in our capital markets by providing investors and the markets with more reliable information and clear rules of honest dealing."1

Another well known creation of New Deal legislation is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) which was created by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 in response to the thousands of bank failures that occurred in the 1920s and early 1930s and began January 1, 1934.

Other well known agencies and programs that were created with New Deal legislation were the Social Security Administration created by the 1935 Social Security Act and the Federal National Mortgage Association more commonly known as Fannie Mae External Link chartered in February 1938.

The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) was created in 1934 with the passage of the National Housing Act of 1934 with the intent to regulate the rate of interest and the terms of mortgages that it insured. It became a part of the Housing & Urban Development Administration in 1965.

Within the Department of Labor the Civilian Conservation Corps External Link which put many men and young adults into jobs in the 1930s and 1940s and the National Labor Relations Board began with the passing of the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act).2

 1. Creation of the SEC, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission web site. Viewed on May 28, 2009.

 2. History at the Department of Labor—Departmental Timeline, U.S. Department of Labor web site. Viewed on May 28, 2009.

Print Resources

Dubofsky, Melvyn & Burwood, Stephen (Eds.). (1990). The American Economy During the Great Depression. New York : Garland.
LC Call Number: HC106.3 .A682 1990
LC Catalog Record: 89025952
        A series of writings on various aspects of the Depression and the new deal.

Dubofsky, Melvyn & Burwood, Stephen (Eds.). (1990). The Great Depression and the New Deal. 2, Labor. New York : Garland.
LC Call Number: HD8072 .L217 1990
LC Catalog Record: 89071389
        A series of writings on various aspects of the Depression and the new deal with a focus on Labor issues.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation : The First Fifty Years : A History of the FDIC, 1933-1983. (1984). Washington, D.C. : FDIC.
LC Call Number: HG1662.U5 F4 1984
LC Catalog Record: 85601603
        Published by the FDIC for it's 50th anniversary.

Flynn, Kathryn A. (2008). The New Deal : 75th Anniversary Celebration. Layton, Utah : Gibbs Smith.
LC Call Number: E806 .F58 2008
LC Catalog Record: 2007046635

Himmelberg, Robert F. (1993). The Origins of the National Recovery Administration : Business, Government, and the Trade Association Issue, 1921-1933. 2nd ed. New York : Fordham University Press.
LC Call Number: HD3616.U46 H53 1993
LC Catalog Record: 93023761

Jones, Jesse H. (1951). Fifty Billion Dollars : My Thirteen Years with the RFC, 1932-1945. Macmillan.
LC Call Number: HG3729.U4 J58
LC Catalog Record: 51012815
        The recollection of Jesse Jones from his 13 years at the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

Lewis, Ervin Eugene. (1933). Primer of the New Deal; a Friendly but Nonpartisan Interpretation of the Measures Adopted by the Roosevelt Administration. Columbus, Ohio, New York, N.Y., American Education Press, Inc.
LC Call Number: HC106.3 .L42 1933
LC Catalog Record: 3034948
        Revised School Edition. Written for students and mass consumers.

McElvaine, Robert S. (Ed.). (2004). Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. New York : Macmillan Reference USA.
Table of contents online
LC Call Number: E806 .E63 2004
LC Catalog Record: 2003010292

Nash, Gerald D. (Ed.). (1988).Social Security, the First Half-Century. 1st ed. Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press.
LC Call Number: HD7125 .S5994 1988
LC Catalog Record: 87036853

Essays written by a variety of authors, covering the first 50 years of Social Security. Includes a chronology of significant events, but also a bibliography.

The National Recovery Administration (NRA): An Inventory of Publications in the Collections of the Library of Congress.

The Business Reference Section has created an inventory of several of the major series issued by the United States National Recovery Administration between 1933 and 1935, which are available in the general collections of the Library of Congress. Included are Administrative Materials, History of Codes, Codes of Fair Competition, Statistical Materials, and Working Papers, etc.

Olson, James S. (1977). Herbert Hoover and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, 1931-1933. Ames : Iowa State University Press.
LC Call Number: HG3729.U4 O4
LC Catalog Record: 76057944
        A look at the creation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation under President Herbert Hoover.

Olson, James Stuart. (1988). Saving Capitalism : the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the New Deal, 1933-1940. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press.
Publisher Description
LC Call Number: HG3729.U5 O47 1988
LC Catalog Record: 87007275

Written by the author of Herbert Hoover and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, 1931-1933, this covers the RFC during the years 1933-1944 as well as the New Deal.

Rosen, Elliot A. (2005). Roosevelt, the Great Depression, and the Economics of Recovery. Charlottesville, Va. : University of Virginia Press.
Table of Contents online
LC Call Number: HC106.3 .R597 2005
LC Catalog Record: 2005003930

Explores the causes of the Great Depression and America's recovery from it in relation to the policies and policy alternatives that were in play during the New Deal era. It is more of a history of the New Deal and not an economic assessment.

Smeltzer, Karl C. (2004). Memories from Early Days of the Securities and Exchange Commission : On its 70th Anniversary. Washington, DC : Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society.
LC Call Number: HG4910 .S557 2004
LC Catalog Record: 2007272223
Full text available online External Link [PDF format: 68KB / 25 p.]

Written for the 70th anniversary of the SEC by an employee who began his career at the SEC in 1936 and left in 1973.

Internet Resources

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (National Archives) External Link

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Library is run by the National Archives. Includes all aspects of the presidency including information on the Depression and the New Deal. Most material is on-site access only. Includes a nice New Deal biblography. External Link

New Deal Network External Link

Research and teaching resource for students and educators that includes a Document Library, a Photo Gallery and other related information.

Securities & Exchange Commission

Created from the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, contains full-text of public filings from 1994 as well as historical SEC Annual Reports and other statistical reports.

Securities & Exchange Commission – Virtual Museum and Archive External Link

Fannie Mae External Link

Much of the content is related to affordable housing, or making the purchase of a home understandable with content directed a home buyers and business partners.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

Created in 1933. The history/about area contains video, photos, and audio components of historical events.

Social Security Administration

Created with the 1935 Social Security Act. The About Our Agency area has legislative and historical information on the birth and development of the Social Security Administration.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)

The NLRB was established in 1935 to administer the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the primary law that governs relations between unions, employees and employers in the private sector. There is information about the Agency's structure and its key personnel and their roles.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

Now part of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), the FHA was created in1934 by the National Housing Act of 1934.

Center for New Deal Studies (Roosevelt University) External Link

The Center has resources and hosts educational programs and lecture series related to the lives of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and of the social, economic, political, and cultural history of the New Deal era in American history.

100 Milestone documents (National Archives) External Link

Includes images of many original documents in United States including several related to the New Deal: Tennessee Valley Authority Act (1933), National Industrial Recovery Act (1933), National Labor Relations Act (1935), Social Security Act (1935), and President Franklin Roosevelt's Radio Address unveiling the second half of the New Deal (1936).

National Archives

Contains the documents of the government agencies. Including the Reconstruction Finance Agency.

"Reconstruction Finance Corporation" by James Butkiewicz, University of Delaware External Link

Historical account of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation on EH.Net—Economic History Services web site.

America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1935-1945

175,000 plus photographs that are part of the Library of Congress' American Memory from the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Collection.

By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943

907 posters done from 1936 to 1943 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal and is part of the Library of Congress' American Memory.

Resources for Teachers (from Library of Congress)

The Great Depression

Images, manuscripts, maps, sound files from across the Library's collections, along with analysis tools and lession plans.

The New Deal

Sets of selected primary sources on the New Deal, available as easy-to-print PDFs. Also includes background information, teaching ideas, and tools to guide student analysis.

Labor Unions

Links to documents in the Library's collection relating to Labor Unions during the Great Depression and New Deal. See also, for primary source sets relating to labor in the collections of the Library.

Library of Congress Catalog Searches

Additional works on this topic in the Library of Congress may be identified by searching the Online Catalog under appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. Choose the topics you wish to search from the following list of Library of Congress subject headings to link directly to the Catalog and automatically execute a search for the subject selected. Please be aware that during periods of heavy use you may encounter delays in accessing the catalog. Please see the individual sections of this guide for catalog searches relating to those topics. For assistance in locating the many other subject headings which relate to this subject, please consult a reference librarian.

New Deal, 1933-1939.
United States. National Recovery Administration.
United States--Economic conditions--1918-1945.
United States--Economic policy--1933-1945.
Depressions--1929--United States.
Reconstruction Finance Corporation--History.
United States--Politics and government--1933-1945.
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.
United States. Securities and Exchange Commission--History.
United States. Social Security Administration.
Social security--United States--History.
Labor--United States--History.
Labor unions--United States--History.
United States--History--1933-1945.

If you have any further questions, please Ask A Librarian.

Last updated: 08/12/2015

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