American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

What’s New about the New Deal?

Published May 11, 2009

Gerald Markowitz, John Jay College and The Graduate Center, CUNY
“FDR, The Depression, and the New Deal: What Was New?”
The Graduate Center, CUNY
October 23, 2007

In this presentation to New York City teachers, historian Gerald Markowitz discusses Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. He begins by focusing on what was new about the New Deal, including the government’s response to the Great Depression, the relationship of the government to the people, and changes in the definition of freedom. Markowitz continues by discussing the limitations of the New Deal, which he describes as an innovative and unstable reform coalition that faced constraints when confronting agricultural, southern, and civil rights policies. Limitation, Markowitz concludes, is a consistent theme in U.S. history, and what is left undone in one era is often the basis for change and reform in the next.

Images used in this presentation:

Hunger Line on 6th Avenue & 42nd Street, H.W. Felchner, FDR Library, 1932 (New Deal Network)Abandoned Mining Town, Wilson, FDR Library (New Deal Network)Tenant Farmers, Homeless, OK Farm Security Administration, FDR Library,1938Destitute Pea Pickers in California, Dorothea Lange, Library of Congress, 1936Young Oklahoma MotherPicketers in Front of WPA Building, NARA, 1941 (New Deal Network)

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