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Filmography - American History, The Great Depression: Home

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of August 2013

American History, The Great Depression

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of August 2013

Most streaming videos listed are available exclusively to AU students, staff and faculty after an online authentications by AUID#.

This is a selective list of video holdings in the American University Library. Filmographies are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the ALADIN catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible.  All DVDs listed below are located in Media Services on the Lower Level of Bender Library. To search the library’s complete videos holdings on prison topics (including VHS tapes) search the library catalog at:


The 1930s. 2010.  5 videodiscs (300 min.). Surviving the Dust Bowl. In 1931 the rains stopped and the "black blizzards" began. Less well-known than those who sought refuge in California, typified by the Joad family in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath," the Dust Bowlers stayed and overcame an almost a decade of unbelievable calamities and disasters, enduring drought, dust, disease, even death, determined to preserve their way of life. Seabiscuit. Despite his boxy build, stumpy legs, scraggly tail and ungainly gait, Seabiscuit was one of the most remarkable thoroughbred racehorses in history. His fabulously wealthy owner Charles Howard, his famously silent and stubborn trainer Tom Smith, and the two hard-bitten, gifted jockeys who rode him to glory turned Seabiscuit into a national hero. In 1929, there were few critics of a stock market seeming to rise without limits. Presidents and economists alike confidently predicted that America would soon enter a "New Era" when everyone could be rich. Ultimately the promise of an economic boom disappeared almost overnight. In 1933 President Roosevelt sent legislation to Conngress aimed at providing relief for the 1 out of every 4 American workers who were unemployed. This included a proposal for the Civilian Conservation Corps, which over the next decade put  millions of young men to work, planting trees, building flood barriers, fighting fires, and maintaining roads and trails. The Hoover Dam reflected the engineering genius and design philosophy of the time.  the was called "the greatest engineering work of its character ever attempted by the hand of man." Working conditions were dangerous and the pay was low, but in the midst of the great depression the workers were grateful to have a job.  DVD 6991 – 6995

Anatomy of a crisis : From cradle to grave. 1980.  1 videodisc (120 min.). The Great Depression has been popularly viewed as a failure of capitalism. The stock market crash, the failure of the Bank of the United States, loss of personal savings, were visible symbols supporting this belief. As Milton Friedman explains, the real cause was the unseen failure of government policy and action. Yet this crisis resulting from government failure leads to decades of government expansion.  DVD 7832

The Appalachians culture of survival. 2006.  The Appalachians.  1 streaming video file (53 min.). This program examines the 20th-century history of Appalachia through the prisms of economic hardship, spiritual perseverance, and the region's rich musical heritage. Showcasing the power of the traditional string band, the video chronicles the rise of modern country music by way of the radio and phonograph. It also highlights the resonance of long-standing church traditions and documents the Appalachian experience in connection with major historical events and forces: the Great Depression, the New Deal, the WPA, the Tennessee Valley Authority, World War II, strip mining, the postwar migration of mountain people to the mid-West, and LBJ's War on Poverty.  Streaming video.


Baseball. 2011.  Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns.  1 streaming video file (125 min.). Although previous episodes of Ken Burns' Baseball series also deal with African-American contributions to the game, much of this program is devoted to the Negro Leagues and the vast number of talented black players barred from competing in the Majors. The film's title refers to a common pre-game feature in which players staged a mock game with an imaginary ball-an unintended yet apt metaphor for the discriminatory policies of the era. The impact of the Great Depression on the sport is also an important topic, while the names DiMaggio and Williams make their first appearances.  DVD 6311-6320

Blowing bubbles emergence of stock trading. 2009.  The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World: Ascent of money.  1 streaming video file (49 min.). Why do stock markets produce bubbles, and what makes them burst? In this program, financial scholar Niall Ferguson examines the origins of the joint stock company and the modern share trading system, highlighting some of history's most notorious market meltdowns. Analyzing the herd instinct and its role in economic upswings and downturns, Ferguson draws parallels between the 2001 Enron bankruptcy and the 18th-century Mississippi Bubble perpetrated by Scottish financier John Law, who exercised a nearly monolithic influence over France's economy and colonial ventures. Ferguson also traces aspects of today's stock exchanges to Dirck Bas Jacobsz and the Dutch East India Company.  Streaming video.

Brother, can you spare a dime? 2006.  1 streaming video file (20 min.). This program shows the events of the Great Depression and explains how they prepared the way for the rise of Nazism, Japanese expansionism, and the altered role of government in the U.S. It covers the Bonus March in July 1932; the Boom of the 1920s and the Bust, speculation, overconfidence, and an economy out of control; and the end of the Dawes Plan. Would the New Deal solve the nation's problems or usher in the revolution?  Streaming video.

Bust America - The Story of Us. 2011.  America: The Story of Us: America, the story of us.  1 streaming video file (60 min.). On October 29th, 1929, the boom era of the Jazz Age came to a crashing halt on Wall Street. The dramatic effects of the Great Depression and New Deal are the main topics of this program. Despite the country's economic collapse, major public works projects such as the Hoover Dam offered proof of the industrial and technological might of the United States - and of the undeniable abilities of the American worker. Streaming video.

Cinderella Man. 2005.  1 videodisc (145 min.). During the Great Depression, an everyday common-man hero, James J. Braddock was to become one of the most surprising sports legends in history. With the Depression going strong in the early 1930s, the impoverished ex-boxer was seemingly as broken-down and out-of-luck as the rest of the America. Driven by love and determination, he returned to the ring. He did not have much of a shot, but James was fueled by something beyond mere competition. He kept winning and suddenly, the ordinary working man became an icon who carried the hopes and dreams of the disenfranchised on his shoulders. Eventually, he rose through the ranks and went on to fight the heavyweight champ, the unstoppable Max Baer.  DVD 9276

The Civilian Conservation Corps. 2010.  1 videodisc (55 min.). Interweaving rich archival imagery with the personal accounts of Civilian Conservation Corps veterans, this film tells the story of one of the boldest and most popular New Deal experiments, positioning it as a pivotal moment in the emergence of modern environmentalism and federal unemployment relief.  DVD 6992

Depression and war. 2011.  Freedom: A History of US.  1 streaming video file (30 min.). With Black Thursday, and the collapse of the stock market, America heads into the Great Depression. Franklin D. Roosevelt builds a New Deal, while, overseas, Adolf Hitler rises to power and invades Poland. Responding to Pearl Harbor, the worst attack in American history to that time, FDR guides the nation through World War II. Streaming video.

Documenting the face of America Roy Stryker and the FSA/OWI photographers. 2009.  1 streaming video file (57 min.). Beginning in 1935, a group of New Deal-sponsored photographers roamed the American landscape, capturing the human face of the Great Depression. This film tells the story of the mammoth project, supervised by Roy Stryker of the Farm Security Administration and later made part of the Office of War Information. Viewers will encounter the poignant, iconic images and personal challenges of photographers Gordon Parks, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Marion Post Wolcott, and other visionaries. Interviews with Parks, Louise Rosskam, and Bernarda Shahn-wife of painter and photographer Ben Shahn-shed light on a period in which artistic innovation formed a response to social and economic despair.  Streaming video.

A&E Classroom FDR - The Voice of Change. 1996.  1 streaming video file (45 min.). This portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt spans his political career from its beginning to the New Deal-the turning point at which his policies began to lead America out of the Great Depression. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. (45 minutes).  Streaming video.

A&E Classroom Herbert Hoover/Huey Long. 1996.  1 streaming video file (45 min.). The Great Depression crashed upon America in 1929. This program profiles Herbert Hoover, president from 1929 to 1933, and Huey Long-governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932, senator from 1932 to 1935, presidential hopeful, and victim of assassination-murdered at the height of his popularity. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. (45 minutes). Streaming video.

A&E Classroom The Class of the 20th Century - 1930-1939. 1990.  1 streaming video file (45 min.). This program covers the years 1930 to 1939, a decade that starts with the Great Depression and ends with Europe poised on the verge of a second world war. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. A part of the series A&E Classroom: The Class of the 20th Century. (45 minutes).  Streaming video.

Economics U$A. 2011.  4 videodiscs (ca 840 min.). "Explore economic history, theory, and practice through case studies and interviews with Nobel-prize winning and major economists. The series covering macro, micro, and international economics features Milton Friedman, Paul Samuelson, John Kenneth Galbraith, Alice Rivlin, and Ben Bernanke, among others. Major economic events, including the 2008 banking crisis and technology's influence on the economy, connect economic theory to the headlines. The full complement of material includes audio interviews and a coordinated Web site." -- publisher information.  DVD 10173 - 10174

The First Measured Century 1930-1960. 2011.  The First Measured Century: 1930-1960: First Measured Century.  1 streaming video file (60 min.). Pictures cannot begin to capture the depth of the Great Depression. This program takes a look at the "numbers" of devastation, including one story that has come to epitomize the Depression experience - the tragic saga of the dust bowl migration to California. As Americans were repeatedly told, these migrants were uneducated, dirt-poor farmers crippled by drought, but as demographics would later reveal, much of what we think that migration was about is statistically incorrect. Measurements were also playing a crucial role in the most intimate areas of American life. During the years of the Depression, the marriage rate fell by 22 percent; the divorce rate dropped by 25 percent, while the birth rate declined by 15 percent. But the numbers that measured the hardship also highlighted a crisis so extreme it brought forth some of the most powerful policies of reform to date.  Streaming video.

Forbidden Hollywood collection. 2009.  1 videodisc (139 min.). Heroes for sale: The saga of Tom Holmes - a man of principles - from the Great War to the Great Depression. Will he ever get a break? His war heroics earn fame and a medal for someone else, and his wounds result in a morpheme addiction that costs him a job, his reputation in his home town, and months in a clinic. He goes to Chicago, where he's enterprising and dedicated to his work and his fellow workers, but an invention he champions results in the opposite of his intentions, leading to loss of life and an unjust imprisonment. After release, during the Depression, he must face local "red squads" and vigilante groups jousting out jobless men. Will anyone see his true heroic character? Wild boys of the road: In the depths of the Depression, two teenage boys strike out on their own in order to help their struggling parents and find life on the road tougher than expected.  DVD 5793

The grapes of wrath.  2004.  The Ford at Fox collection: 20th Century Fox studio classics: Studio classic.  1 videodisc (129 min.). The migration of the Joad family to California from their dust-bowl farm in Oklahoma during the Great Depression.  DVD 3486

The Great Depression. 2004.  American history in video.  1 electronic resource (ca. 30 min.). Black Tuesday, the day the stock market crashed, was the start of the Great Depression. As breadlines and soup kitchens rose up across the country, the people looked for leadership and found it in Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Streaming video.;777564

The Great depression. 2007.  America in the 20th Century: America in the 20th century: America in the twentieth century (Hamilton, N.J.).  1 streaming video file (31 min.). From the collapse of the stock market on October 29, 1929-Black Tuesday-to the many federal initiatives designed to revive the faltering U.S. economy, this program offers an insightful overview of life during the Great Depression. The presidential administrations of Herbert Hoover and FDR; the New Deals and their effects on labor, conservation, and cultural life; the Dust Bowl; and the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act are discussed. Correlates to standards from the National Council for the Social Studies. Streaming video.

Great nature (1933-1945). 2009.  The national parks: America's best idea: The national parks: America's best idea.  1 videodisc (116 min.). To battle unemployment in the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt creates the Civilian Conservation Corps, which spawns a "golden age" for the parks through major renovation projects. In a groundbreaking study, a young NPS biologist named George Melendez Wright discovers widespread abuses of animal habitats and pushes the service to reform its wildlife policies. Congress narrowly passes a bill to protect the Everglades in Florida as a national park the first time a park has been created solely to preserve an ecosystem, as opposed to scenic beauty. As America becomes entrenched in World War II, Roosevelt is pressured to open the parks to mining, grazing and lumbering. The president also is subjected to a storm of criticism for expanding the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming by accepting a gift of land secretly purchased by John D. Rockefeller Jr.  DVD 6345

Hansel Mieth vagabond photographer. 2006.  Filmakers library online.  1 online resource (54 min.). Hansel Mieth is the compelling tale of a pioneering woman photojournalist who created some of the most indelible images of mid-twentieth century America. Armed with convictions, perseverance, and talent, she carved out a career in the male-dominated world of photojournalism, eventually becoming a celebrated LIFE Magazine staff photographer, only the second woman to occupy that position. The film is narrated by Mieth in her own words. Mieth was a German working-class immigrant who arrived in this country in the midst of the Great Depression, having been denied the educational opportunities she craved. Throughout her career, she was accompanied by photojournalist Otto Hagel. Their tumultuous marriage and artistic collaboration spanned nearly five decades. They lived and documented the reality of the Depression, struggling themselves as migrant farm workers. Their photographs revealed a more intimate story of the Depression than those of official photographers. During the late 1930s and 1940s -- the golden age of pictorial magazines -- Mieth's and Hagel's images of strikers, criminals, scientists, cowboys, Native Americans, and countless others appeared in every major publication in America. Mieth was internationally acclaimed as one of the most courageous, principled, and influential photographers of her time. Her photographs stand as a testament to her humanity and to her unyielding commitment to social justice.  Streaming video.;1646835

Harry Hopkins at FDR's side. 1992.  Filmakers library online.  1 online resource (87 min.). During the turbulent times of the Great Depression and World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt presided over great changes in America and the world - changes that would have been impossible without the efforts of one extraordinary man - FDR s friend and advisor, Harry Hopkins. The son of a harness maker from Iowa, and, for 20 years, a social worker in New York, Hopkins was invited by Roosevelt to head the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression. Within four weeks, he had put four million people to work. He went on to help Roosevelt establish numerous federal programs that live on today. Despite failing health, he made his greatest impact during World War II. He was Roosevelt s personal envoy to Winston Churchill, executing the Lend-Lease program and helping the country mobilize for war. His unique relationship to Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin contributed to forging agreements at Teheran and Yalta. This award-winning film shows how one man's unshakable belief in America and in public service was so vital to his country. It is also a tale of grand adventure, of dangerous wartime missions executed at great risk.  Streaming video.;1630807

Huey Long A Film By Ken Burns. 2011.  1 streaming video file (90 min.). The populist governor of Louisiana and United States senator, Huey Long captured the American imagination with his dramatic speeches and promise of "Every man a king." "The Kingfish" governed during the Great Depression, advocating public works and spending money on state highways, hospitals, schools, and old age pensions. Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns examines Long's extraordinary career from his political beginnings in the 1920s until his 1935 assassination. A hero to his constituents, an unscrupulous and unethical "dictator" to his critics, this complex man is drawn out with archival footage and interviews with Long's family members, Louisiana natives, politicians, historians and colleagues.  Streaming video.

I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' (1930-1942). 2012.  Broadway: The American Musical: Broadway, The American Musical.  1 streaming video file (60 min.). The Great Depression proved to be a period of creative growth on Broadway. This program explores a dichotomy that emerged in the musical theater during that time, with social and political concerns on one hand and effervescent escapism on the other - from Cole Porter's glamorous Anything Goes to the WPA production of The Cradle Will Rock to George Gershwin's epic masterpiece, Porgy and Bess. The film features interviews with the original "Bess," Anne Brown; the original "Porgy," Todd Duncan; playwright Jerome Chodorov; film director Stanley Donen; actor and writer Philip Furia; actor John Houseman; and composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Highlights include rarely seen home movies of the Gershwin brothers from the 1930s, and 1950s TV footage of Ethel Waters singing Irving Berlin's "Suppertime.  Streaming video.

Jazz. 2011.  Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns.  1 streaming video file (110 min.). With farms and factories falling victim to the Great Depression, jazz was one of the few American industries poised for explosive growth. This program explores the art form during the first half of the decade, a period in which New York City usurped Chicago as America's jazz capital, Louis Armstrong revolutionized Broadway song craft, and Chick Webb forged his big-band sound at the Savoy Ballroom. Viewers also learn of pianists Fats Waller and Art Tatum, who dazzled audiences with stunning virtuosity; of Duke Ellington's ongoing compositional artistry, praised in many quarters as rivaling Stravinsky's work in sophistication; of Benny Goodman's adventures in nationwide broadcasting, which showcased not only his own talents but the stunning arrangements of Fletcher Henderson; and of Goodman's swinging triumph at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles.  Streaming video.

John L. Lewis King Coal. 2011.  A&E Classroom: A&E Classroom.  1 streaming video file (45 min.). Throughout the 1930s and 40s, John L. Lewis was the most powerful figure in the U.S. labor movement. This episode of A&E Classroom examines the president of the United Mine Workers of America, an independent and strong-willed leader who secured rights and benefits for the miners. A major force behind the founding of the CIO, Lewis also played a role in Franklin D. Roosevelt's election.  Streaming video.

John Maynard Keynes and Keynesianism Masters of Money—Three Economists Who Changed the World.  2012.  1 streaming video file (51 min.). If anyone comes close to rivaling Winston Churchill as the central figure in modern British history, it is John Maynard Keynes. He is often credited with, among other things, helping to save capitalism from the Great Depression, ensuring that the war against the Nazis was properly funded, and building postwar decades of growth and prosperity. Today his ideas remain crucial to the critical debate of our time: should governments borrow and spend their way out of a global economic crisis or slash their budgets and reduce their national debts? With contributions from some of the world’s leading economic thinkers, including a Nobel laureate and the governor of the Bank of England, this program examines the Keynesian economic vision—acknowledging the ongoing controversies around it while recognizing that when disaster struck in 2008, it was Keynes’s ideas to which many world leaders turned. Produced by the Open University. A part of the series Masters of Money: Three Economists Who Changed the World. (51 minutes).  Streaming video.