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National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933

Economists, scholars, politicians, and the public at large were deeply divided as to the underlying causes of the Great Depression and the best means to bring it to an end. In the months following Roosevelt’s inauguration, his advisers, along with members of Congress and representatives from business and labor, drafted the legislation that was introduced in Congress on May 15, 1933, as the National Industrial Recovery Act. The division of opinions about the Depression was reflected in those who drafted NIRA, and the act drew both praise and criticism from across the political spectrum. Nevertheless, the urgency of the economic situation (with unemployment exceeding 30 percent in many parts of the country) pressured Congress to act.Continue Reading »

Federal Emergency Relief Act of 1933

Text from the The Federal Emergency Relief Act of 1933Continue Reading »

Emergency Relief and Construction Act of 1932

President Herbert Hoover said: “I expect to sign the relief bill on Tuesday. I do wish to express the appreciation which I have and I know that the country has to those leaders of both political parties who have cooperated to put the bill into effective shape and to eliminate the destructive proposals which were from time to time injected into it.Continue Reading »

Young, Whitney M. Jr

A noted civil rights leader and statesman, Young worked to eradicate discrimination against blacks and poor people. He served on numerous national boards and advisory committees and received many honorary degrees and awards —including the Medal of Freedom (1969), presented by President Lyndon Johnson—for his outstanding civil rights accomplishments. Continue Reading »

Tubman, Harriet

Tubman had made the perilous trip to slave country 19 times by 1860, including one especially challenging journey in which she rescued her 70-year-old parents. Of the famed heroine, who became known as “Moses,” Frederick Douglass said, “Excepting John Brown — of sacred memory — I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than [Harriet Tubman].”Continue Reading »

Townsend, Dr. Francis

After the war the Townsends lived in Long Beach, Calif. But Townsend’s private medical practice did not prosper so he took a position as assistant city health director. Because of the Great Depression, he soon lost that job. Then, at the age of 66 and wanting to retire, Townsend grew increasingly indignant over the plight of the large number of poverty-stricken old people like himself. In 1933 he proposed a plan whereby the Federal government would provide every person over 60 a $200 monthly pension. The plan called for a guaranteed monthly pension of $200, a quite-considerable sum in the 1930. The pension would be sent to every retired citizen age 60 or older, to be paid for by a form of a national sales tax of 2% on all business transactions with the stipulation that each pensioner would be required to spend the money within 30 days. His idea was to end the Depression through consumer spending by way of ending poverty among the elderly.Continue Reading »

Springer, Gertrude

“Gertrude Springer has sprung from Better Times to The Survey. With this issue of the Mid-monthly, she takes over, as associate editor, the Social Practice Department…. ” (15 October 1930, p. 106.) Springer undertook field trips and initiated contacts to determine the lay of the social welfare landscape beyond New York. In pithy writing about social issues, policy, and services across the country, she never neglected to explain how things came down to affecting individuals. “Amelia Bailey,” — “Miss Bailey” to most people — was a 1930s-style virtual-reality public relief supervisor. “Miss Baily Says…” columns dealt with issues such as: “When Your Client Has a Car,” “Are Relief Workers Policemen?,” “How We Behave in Other People’s Houses.” Continue Reading »

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a very prominent proponent of a woman’s legal and social equality during the nineteenth century. In 1848, she and others organized the first national woman’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. She co-authored that meeting’s Declaration of Sentiments, a document modeled on the Declaration of Independence, and introduced the most radical demand: for womens suffrage.Continue Reading »

Johnson, Cernoria M.

Cernoria Johnson was the director of the Washington office of the National Urban League from the late 1950’s to the early 1970’s where she was a close colleague of Whitney Young. During her years with the Urban League, she was involved with the development and passage of the Great Society legislation and she served on the first advisory committee to the Medicaid Program enacted in 1965. Continue Reading »

Hopkins, Harry Lloyd

Written by Dr. June Hopkins, Associate Professor, History Dept., Armstrong Atlantic State University. Harry L. Hopkins (1890-1946) — Social Worker, Architect of the New Deal, Public Administrator and Confidant of
President Franklin D. RooseveltContinue Reading »

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