The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, IA, was the final location for this year’s Primarily Teaching summer institutes. At the library, the workshop participants explored documents from Herbert Hoover’s time as the 31st President of the United States.
Proportion of Population Given Relief in May 1929, May 1930, and May 1931 in 13 Specified Cities (Based on Data from US Children’s Bureau), 1931. From the Collection HH-HOOVH: Herbert Hoover Papers.
Because the years of his presidency cover the beginning of the Great Depression, many of the documents digitized during Primarily Teaching relate to the rising unemployment rates, and the public works and relief efforts for the poor following the stock market crash of 1929.
With the onset of the Great Depression, concerned citizens from around the country sent Hoover letters on the destitution in their neighborhoods, often describing their own opinions on how America should beat the depression it faced; many asked for appropriations to be made for the homeless—especially nearing the frigid winter months.
Through the entirety of his term, President Hoover tried his best to help alleviate American poverty and unemployment without an over-reliance on federal intervention or creating situations in which fraud or special privileges could take root. He recommended local aid through various work projects, encouraged cooperation between businesses and government, and worked to stabilize the economy. Hoover struggled tirelessly in the fight against American poverty.
Telegram from Gustavus D. Pope of the American Red Cross to President Herbert Hoover, May 6, 1930. From the Collection HH-HOOVH: Herbert Hoover Papers.
The classroom suitable documents that were scanned and digitized by educator and staff alike are now up and available on DocsTeach.org—our online tool for teaching with documents—for anyone looking for primary sources on relief efforts during the Great Depression.
The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum was the last stop for the Primarily Teaching workshops this summer, but in early 2016 we will have information regarding next year’s institutes—stay tuned!
White House Statement on Emergency Appropriations for Public Works, 11/8/1930. From the Collection HH-HOOVH: Herbert Hoover Papers.
Each Primarily Teaching workshop focuses on a specific topic, but all fit into the National History Day theme—this year’s being “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.” The research at the Hoover Presidential Library was a great success, and thanks to the effort of teachers and staff, documents on President Hoover’s role in Great Depression poverty relief and assistance can now be accessed and used for teaching and classroom activities.
We would like to thank all the teachers who participated in this year’s Primarily Teaching summer institutes! In total, over 250 more documents are now available online through the efforts of our educators!
Hope to see you next summer!
Primarily Teaching is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation, through the support of Texas Instruments and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.