This week we will take a break from our normal content and take a virtual field trip to the computer lab.  If we were in a ‘live’ class, we would spend some time in the computer lab to make sure we are comfortable with Voice Thread as we prepare our presentations.

If you have not already done so, create your account on Voice Thread.  Begin practicing and playing around with the various features.

You may find the depression era photos at Library of Congress very helpful for your presentation.

Another resource is the Creative Commons, which provides access to a wealth of royalty-free photography.

I will email your graded term papers to you by Sunday evening.  Utilize our discussion time this week to ask questions, share ideas and resources, and to help each other prepare for our presentations.  Keep in mind that a good digital story lasts only 3 minutes.  Once our presentations are complete, we will view and comment on each presentation.  Imagine you have three minutes to present your research to the class.  What do you want us to know?  What information is truly interesting and compelling?

Here is just one of many examples of a presentation in Voice Thread on the Great Depression.  I encourage you to take a look at a number of different presentations.  Be on the look out for both things that make a really engaging presentation and also things that make a presentation painful.  It can be something as simple as background noise or the number of ‘ums’ per slide.  Also, notice some people have stretched their photos to the point that they are dithered and unattractive.

Here is the University of Richmond’s Digital Storytelling site.

Posted by: lcbaur | October 30, 2009

FDR and the USA in 1935

The mood of the average American at the beginning of 1935 was sullen and often almost combative.  Americans were past the initial shock of the Great Depression.  After FDR enacted the Social Security Act and the Wagner Act, Americans began feeling more relaxed.  There was a figurative light at the end of the tunnel.  The Social Security Act helped the elderly and disabled.  The Wagner Act was in place for union workers.  So, the mood began dark and sad and began to make a turn-around not seen since before the Depression began.

This link provides a detailed break-down of the Social Security Act of 1935.

The Social Security Act of 1935 was a huge relief for the many disabled or distraught Americans.  The Act gave grants for elderly assistance, unemployment, “dependant” children, child welfare, mother and child health care and disabled adults.  The Social Security Act also delivers services for disabled children as well as benefits for the elderly.  Tax modifications for the employed provided relief and regulations.  FDR’s administration definitely improved the way the United States cares for the elderly and disabled.

The Wagner Act of 1935 was vital to the workers of the depression era.  The Wagner Act was created to enable workers to independently organize unions without the interference of their employers.  This was one of the greatest improvements of the twentieth century.

It seems that the second term of FDR proved to begin with the improved welfare of the American people.

FDR surely changed direction because the current path his administration was on was not bringing the American people or economy above desperation.  The only way to bring the mood of the American people out of the darkness was to provide assistance for those who could not provide for themselves.  The economy would improve if the workers could continue working without fear of termination or lack of fair pay.

Major events in 1935 were abundant!  Among the many, the radar is invented.  The demo for the radar is produced on February 12th.  By February 26th, the experiment was carried out to finalize the radar.  For the third time, Stanley Baldwin became the Prime Minister of Great Britain.  On March 21st, Reza Shah Pahlavi requested that the world call his country of Persia, Iran.  Iran means “Land of Aryans”.  Italy invaded Ethiopia on October 3rd.  Benito Mussolini shared Adolph Hitler’s idea of expanding Germany. 

There were so many worldly events that occurred in 1935.  Below is a link with a list of all the world’s events of 1935 in chronological order.

The Dust Bowl was prevalent from 1930-1936 in the United States.  In 2009, Ghana is suffering from the worst dry season they have had in a long time.  They are calling it the Dust Bowl of 2009.  Although comparing the Great Depression and the economic down-turn the United States is suffering now, there are some similarities.  People are cutting back on spending.  Unemployment is on the rise.  People are losing hope and becoming more desperate.

Posted by: jzinn3 | October 30, 2009

Alpine Trail at Lynchburg’s Riverside Park

Part of this trail is credited to the WPA.


Posted by: jzinn3 | October 30, 2009

Cooper’s Rock State Park, West Virginia

Here are the photos I took in August at Cooper’s Rock State Park, just outside of Morgantown, WV.

Coopers rock

coopers rock 1

Scenic overlook


Picnic Pavilion

Here is some additional information about the park.

Posted by: jzinn3 | October 30, 2009

Consumers Returning to Big Brands

A recent report indicates consumers are starting to show interest in name brands once again instead of generic and store labels.  While consumer sentiment is still low, shoppers appear to be willing to pay a few cents or dollars more for the more trusted name brands.

I, for one, am still interested in saving as many pennies as possible at the checkout.  My grandmother used to say, “a penny saved is a penny earned.”  Although I have to say, the dollar frozen pizzas I recently purchased at Kroger really were not worth it.

Posted by: jzinn3 | October 29, 2009

Cautious Optimism: GDP Grew at 3.5% in 3rd Quarter 2009

I just received a CNN breaking news text:  the initial reading on GDP indicates that the economy grew 3.5% in 2009.3 (3rd quarter 2009).  This impressive growth is largely attributed to big ticket spending, including the “Cash for Clunkers” program, and may signal the end to the recession.  Some are already declaring the recession has ended.

Of course, one data point does not indicate a trend.  While this is very good news, the big question is whether or not the economy will continue to recover.  Consumer sentiment is pretty somber as we head into the most important retail season of the year.   Will consumers spend?

Is the recession over? Click the link to watch an MSNBC analysis.

Posted by: jzinn3 | October 25, 2009

Week 10: Roosevelt’s Re-Election

This week we will focus on the months prior to and just after FDR’s re-election.  In 1935, FDR and his administration changed a number of political and economic strategies.  Consider the events surrounding the campaign and his re-election, along with the following quotes from “The Forgotten Man”.

“”The will to Believe’ – if you had faith in an outcome, you could help to make that outcome occur.” page 247

“Now by defining his forgotten man as the specific groups he would help, the president was in effect forgetting the rest – creating a new forgotten man.” page 249

” The new law raised taxes on several classes of taxpayer.” page 263

“The thing to focus on was not that the economy might be improving a little bit, but rather that the country was not getting the strong recovery that it should expect.” page 263

“Washington continued to spend: as a share of the economy, the government was expanding to 9 percent from the 6 percent that had obtained when the New Dealers first rode with Roosevelt down to Washington.” page 266

“Morgenthau and his advisors therefore came up with a novel plan to choke the money out of companies: an undistributed profits tax.” page 269

1.  What was the general mood of the nation at that time?

2.  What improvements were there?

3.  Why did FDR feel the need to change direction?

4.  What world events were taking place during this time?

5.  Based on what we have read in our texts so far, are there any additional parallels we can draw between 1935/36 and today?

Posted by: megamuphyn | October 24, 2009

Society Surviving the Bumps and Bruises of the Depression

Life changed during the Depression because the majority of society had to do with less and survive on what was on hand.  The Depression for all of its hardship and costs should really be looked at for its potential as a great equalizer, in the fact that it affected all parts of society.  Granted the impact came from different angles and wasn’t always to the same degree, but each portion of America’s society felt it.

For the wealthy the Depression’s initial impact was on their investments and how most had to radically change their opulent lifestyles, for a time.  Then when FDR and his administration took office they went after the wealthy and big business with a single-minded vengeance.  Constantly labeling both class and industry type as the great evil to all that was wrong with the economy.  As if these two facets had single-handedly brought on the failure all on their own.  Never mind that Hoover and his administration had shackled the US with horrible foreign relations with protectionism put in place by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930.  FDR and his administration continued with taxes and penalties for businesses having and trying to generate money, which only kept these same private funds from entering the public economy.  This is just personal conjecture but it seems to me that the federal prosecution used as much money for legal fees and such to go after what the administration considered tax evaders and business owners breaking the dozens of codes written by the NRA, than those used by the CWA and PWA to pay unemployed workers.

The middle class just tried to hold on to what they had and were helped by some of the social programs and initiatives of the New Deal.  Taking part in the Civilian Conservation Corps and jobs created by the Public Works Administration and Works Progress Administration (created in 1935).  The FHA and HOLC also helped middle America hold onto their housing.  See for info.

Finally, the poor, even though you wouldn’t think it possible, fell further.  One of FDR’s own programs ended thousands of families, mainly in the South, way of life.  The Agricultural Adjustment Act, as we’ve read, paid farmers to not plant anything.  Many large farms opted to plow under crops, or not plant, any and turn their tenants out of the houses and off their land.  It wasn’t until FDR’s second term that he and his administration truly reached out to that social class directly with the formation of the Resettlement Administration project.  The whole purpose of this program was to reach down and break the poverty cycle by helping sharecroppers and tenant farmers purchase and live off their own land.  The example used in Amity Shlaes’ Forgotten Man is from 274.  The place is Arizona on land around Coolidge Dam: “The condition of the people in the area was simply miserable. ‘Eight families occupied a shed, divided by chicken-wire into compartments measuring 18 by 24 feet, with dirt floors.’ Other families ‘lived in sheds made of box wood and cardboard, tin can flattened.'”  I can’t fathom living at that level of poverty, much less that it was and does occur here in the United States.

One of the costs, other than economics, was the emotional and morale toll on those generations of Americans some of which took place during the stock market crash, but there were other events during the 1930s that had just as a big of an impact.  Off the top of my head was the racial inequality, which was always there, that would raise its head and enter the public consciousness.  Especially, as pointed out in Jim Powell’s FDR’s Folly, that “Blacks we major victims of the NRA.  The labor codes were drawn up by craft unions that excluded blacks as members and did everything they could to promote the interests of white workers and to subvert the interests of black, who were seen as competition” (118).  Plus industries such as farming were becoming more and mechanized that allowed large farms to either curtail use of or get rid of entirely their hired laborers.

As the government kept hounding businesses, big and small, with taxes and punishment for re-investing profits back into production these companies had to make a decision to slow or stop manufacturing just to stay out of trouble with the federal government, which allowed them to stay in business.

This is the time period when the federal government became totally ingrained with the daily life of its people.  FDR’s administration had their fingers in every pie and made sure those pies were following all their specifications and advice.  Before the 1920s federal government kept their distance, only becoming involved when there it heard a general outcry from the population.  The example that comes to mind is publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, which was one of the precipitators of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.  (  Under FDR the federal government ballooned and the age of entrenched bureaucracies truly began.

As far generational permanency, I think that only lasts as long as the affected generation is driving the national and economic bus.  I say this because society tends to repeat the same things 20 – 30 years down the road, but the difference of our “age” is that we have the media to tell us how dumb we all are.  I think what really changed the direction of our modern society from the path the nation and its people were on after the 1930s of frugality and saving was the economy of the late 1950s.  That’s when money and spending that money freely became a social norm.  Gone were the days of saving until you could afford to make that big purchase.  Everything could be bought and was encouraged to be bought with credit.  You know why??  Because according to Random merchants recognized people would spend “112% more” and banks were guaranteed a “constant revenue stream” from consumers using plastic.

Right now, in our current economic state I cannot think of one positive outcome of the Depression era.  By trying to knock upon private industry and making everything public we were and are currently teetering on the edge of a form of republicanism that is masking socialism tendencies.  Considering that the programs put in place in the middle part of the 1930s were either found unconstitutional and protested against even by state legislatures as mentioned in FDR’s Folly on page 124, “Virginia’s Democratic senator Carter Glass protested the NRA code that applied to newspapers.”  The social programs, some still in effect, have only added to our modern federal deficit by continuing and encouraging pockets of society who in turn have become dependent upon government handouts.  The books and information within them have left me feeling jaded and amazed at how history has painted FDR as the “savior of America”.  When the truth is, he really wasn’t.  What saved America was the ability of the people to hang in, have faith in themselves and rely on each other.  It has become apparent to me that the administration of FDR only seemed to hamper and punish independence, ingenuity and individuality.

Posted by: lcbaur | October 21, 2009

Cause and Effect of the Great Depression

Life changed for everyone around the world since the Great Depression world-wide.  One of my grandmothers was born (and still living in Germany) during the Great Depression.  The other grandmother was born and raised here, in the United States.  Although both grandmothers come from different parts of the world, the went through very similar experiences.  My Oma (German grandmother) lived with all of her sisters.  One was married and the youngest was 18, but they all lived in the same tiny house to save money and pull resources.  They grew their own vegetables and had some animals.  My Oma and great aunts all were made tougher.  They all deal with things no matter how hard.  There is always a solution, says my Oma.  My grandma (my American grandmother) had similar experiences.  My Oma is still married to my Opa and they live in a condo, but the refrigerator and cabinets are COMPLETELY filled all of the time.  In 2001, she pulled out a can of beans…with an expiration date of 1980!  She never learned to throw away anything.  Her house is always clean, though.  No clutter.  It’s a food thing.  Same with my American grandmother.  She is a lot better, perhaps because she had less of an intense experience.  But the canned goods are just like my Oma.  Food seems to be the biggest deal.  That and clothes.  My grandparents rarely get new clothes.  They wear them into nothingness.

Rural America in the great Depression suffered the worst.  They began the depression poor and it only went downhill once the stock market crashed.  Children starved and went without school.  Children were forced to grow up faster than usual because they could get jobs cheaper than their fathers.  The children of rural America supported their starving families.

Middle class America was only a little better off.  Homeowners would rent rooms to peopel to help make the mortgage.  Well water took the place of city water for a while.  People stopped paying others for services and learned to do things on their own to save money.  Being frugal took a whole new meaning: people only bought what they absolutely needed to survive.

Instead of financial costs incurred (economically), emotional costs were higher than ever.  Also, we should look at what financial costs were not incurred.  Emotionally, people feared loss of homes and food.  People stopped enjoying what used to be simple pleasures in life.

My grandmother’s lives were permanently changed in the way of not being wasteful.  My American grandmother uses a tissue (that’s in her sleeve) over and over until every centimeter is used.  When something is damaged, both of my grandmothers either fix it or turn it into something else useful.  The American people saved money better than ever, almost afraid to spend it.  Consumers became doers.  People learned how to make or mend things on their own.  Homemade goods became prideful after the Great Depression instead of a necessity.

People that lived during the Great Depression simply learned to work harder and not assume that they deserved anything.  Every meal, all clothes, any education was earned with real sweat and tears and no complaining or prior expectations.

Posted by: lcbaur | October 21, 2009

Check out this Video

I found this video on You Tube.  It’s a campaign video, but I like the message it’s sending.  These candidates are talking about the same issues we are in class; Congress, stimulus package, etc.  The video is a little over 6 minutes long.  Let me know what you think.

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