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Dirty Thirties

Readers' Cafe

America 1933 The Great Depression, Lorena Hickok, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Shaping of the New Deal
The American People in the Great Depression Freedom from Fear, Part One
Ava's Man
Dancing in the Dark A Cultural History of the Great Depression
Daring to Look Dorothea Lange's Photographs and Reports from the Field
Dream Lucky When FDR was in the White House, Count Basie was on the radio, and everyone wore a hat...
The Dust Bowl An Illustrated History
The Dust Bowl.  Disc 2 a film by Ken Burns
Fear Itself The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time
The Forgotten Man A New History of the Great Depression
The Grapes of Wrath 75th Anniversary Edition
The Great American Broadcast A Celebration of Radio's Golden Age
Hard Times An Oral History of the Great Depression
House of Earth A Novel
The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression Shirley Temple and 1930s America
Little Heathens Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression
Rainwater
Wall Street Wars The Epic Battles with Washington that Created the Modern Financial System
The Worst Hard Time The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
America 1933: The Great Depression, Lorena Hickok, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Shaping of the New Deal / Michael Golay

DURING THE HARSHEST year of the Great Depression, Lorena Hickok, a top woman news reporter of the day and intimate friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, was hired by FDR's right-hand man Harry Hopkins to embark upon a grueling journey to the hardest-hit areas of the country to report back on the degree of devastation.

Distinguished historian Michael Golay draws on a trove of original sources - including the moving, remarkably intimate, almost daily letters between Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt - as he re-creates that extraordinary journey. Hickok traveled by car almost nonstop for eighteen months, from January 1933 to August 1934, surviving hellish dust storms, rebellions by coal workers in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and a near revolution by Midwest farmers. A brilliant observer, Hickok wrote searing and deeply empathetic reports to Hopkins and letters to Mrs. Roosevelt that comprise an unparalleled record of the worst economic disaster in the history of the country. Historically important, they crucially influenced the scope and strategy of the Roosevelt administration's unprecedented relief efforts.

The American People in the Great Depression: Freedom from Fear, Part One / David M Kennedy

On October 24, 1929, America met the greatest economic devastation it had ever known. In this first installment of his Pulitzer Prize-winning Freedom from Fear, Kennedy tells how America endured, and eventually prevailed, in the face of that unprecedented calamity.

Kennedy

Ava's Man / Rick Bragg

With the same emotional generosity and effortlessly compelling storytelling that made All Over But the Shoutin' a national bestseller, Rick Bragg continues his personal history of the Deep South. This time he's writing about his grandfather Charlie Bundrum, a man who died before Bragg was born but left an indelible imprint on the people who loved him. Drawing on their memories, Bragg reconstructs the life of an unlettered roofer who kept food on his family's table through the worst of the Great Depression; a moonshiner who drank exactly one pint for every gallon he sold; an unregenerate brawler, who could sit for hours with a baby in the crook of his arm.

In telling Charlie's story, Bragg conjures up the backwoods hamlets of Georgia and Alabama in the years when the roads were still dirt and real men never cussed in front of ladies. A masterly family chronicle and a human portrait so vivid you can smell the cornbread and whiskey, Ava's Man is unforgettable.

Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression / Morris Dickstein

In this timely and long-awaited cultural history, Morris Dickstein, whom Norman Mailer called "one of our best and most distinguished critics of American literature," explores the anxiety and hope, the despair and surprising optimism of a traumatized nation. Dickstein's fascination springs from his own childhood, from a father who feared a pink slip every Friday and from his own love of the more exuberant side of the era: zany screwball comedies, witty musicals, and the lubricious choreography of Busby Berkeley. Whether analyzing the influence of film, design, literature, theater, or music, Dickstein lyrically demonstrates how the arts were then so integral to the fabric of American society.

Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange's Photographs and Reports from the Field / Anne Whiston Spirn

Daring to Look presents never-before-published photos and captions from Dorothea Lange's fieldwork in California, the Pacific Northwest, and North Carolina during 1939. Lange's images of squatter camps, benighted farmers, and stark landscapes are stunning, and her captions - which range from simple explanations of settings to historical notes and biographical sketches - add unexpected depth, bringing her subjects and their struggles unforgettably to life, often in their own words.

When Lange was dismissed from the Farm Security Administration at the end of 1939, these photos and field notes were consigned to archives, where they languished, rarely seen. With Daring to Look, Anne Whiston Spirn not only returns them to the public eye, but sets them in the context of Lange's pioneering life, work, and struggle for critical recognition - firmly placing Lange in her rightful position at the forefront of American photography.

Dream Lucky: When FDR was in the White House, Count Basie was on the radio, and everyone wore a hat... / Roxane Orgill

Dream Lucky covers politics, race, religion, arts, and sports, but the central focus is the period's soundtrack - specifically big band jazz - and the big-hearted piano player William "Count" Basie. His ascent is the narrative thread of the book - how he made it and what made his music different from the rest. But many other stories weave in and out: Amelia Earhart pursues her dream of flying "around the world at its waistline." Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., stages a boycott on 125th Street. And Mae West shocks radio listeners as a naked Eve tempting the snake.

Critic Nat Hentoff praises the "precise originality" with which Roxane Orgill writes about music. In Dream Lucky, she magically lets readers hear the past.

The Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History / Dayton Duncan

In this riveting chronicle, which accompanies a documentary to be broadcast on PBS in the fall, Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns capture the profound drama of the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Terrifying photographs of mile-high dust storms, along with firsthand accounts by more than two dozen eyewitnesses, bring to life this heart-wrenching catastrophe, when a combination of drought, wind, and poor farming practices turned millions of acres of the Great Plains into a wasteland, killing crops and livestock, threatening the lives of small children, burying homesteaders' hopes under huge dunes of dirt. Burns and Duncan collected more than 300 mesmerizing photographs, some never before published, scoured private letters, government reports, and newspaper articles, and conducted in-depth interviews to produce a document that may likely be the last recorded testimony of the generation who lived through this defining decade.

The Dust Bowl. : Disc 2 a film by Ken Burns / Ken Burns

Ken Burns documents the worst human-made ecological disaster in American history, when a frenzied wheat boom on the southern Plains, followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s, nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Vivid interviews, dramatic photographs, and seldom-seen movie footage bring to life incredible stories of human suffering and perseverance. Includes bonus features.

Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time / Ira Katznelson

Redefining our traditional understanding of the New Deal, Fear Itself finally examines this pivotal American era through a sweeping international lens that juxtaposes a struggling democracy with enticing ideologies like Fascism and Communism. Ira Katznelson, "a towering figure in the study of American and European history" (Cornel West) , boldly asserts that, during the 1930s and 1940s, American democracy was rescued yet distorted by a unified band of southern lawmakers who safeguarded racial segregation as they built a new national state to manage capitalism and assert global power. This original study brings to vivid life the politicians and pundits of the time, including Walter Lippmann, who argued that America needed a dose of dictatorship; Mississippi's five-foot-two Senator Theodore Bilbo, who advocated the legal separation of races; and Robert Oppenheimer, who built the atomic bomb yet was tragically undone by the nation's hysteria. Fear Itself is a necessary work, vital to understanding our world -- a world the New Deal first made.?

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression / Amity Shlaes

In The Forgotten Man, Amity Shlaes, one of the nation's most respected economic commentators, offers a striking reinterpretation of the Great Depression. Rejecting the old emphasis on the New Deal, she turns to the neglected and moving stories of individual Americans, and shows how through brave leadership they helped establish the steadfast character we developed as a nation. Some of those figures were well known, at least in their day - Andrew Mellon, the Greenspan of the era; Sam Insull of Chicago, hounded as a scapegoat. But there were also unknowns: the Schechters, a family of butchers in Brooklyn who dealt a stunning blow to the New Deal; Bill W., who founded Alcoholics Anonymous in the name of showing that small communities could help themselves; and Father Divine, a black charismatic who steered his thousands of followers through the Depression by preaching a Gospel of Plenty.

Authoritative, original, and utterly engrossing, The Forgotten Man offers an entirely new look at one of the most important periods in our history. Only when we know this history can we understand the strength of American character today.

The Grapes of Wrath 75th Anniversary Edition / John Steinbeck

First published in 1939, Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into haves and have-nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.

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The Great American Broadcast: A Celebration of Radio's Golden Age / Leonard Maltin

Behind-the-mike voices tell the inside story of the wonderful years when radio brought new meaning to the term "home entertainment. "From Orson Welles to Amos 'n Andy, Burns and Allen and Superman, here is a virtual oral history crammed with fascinating detail and exclusive first-person anecdotes. Illustrated with rare photos, this is s perfect gift for all radio, Americana, and nostalgia buffs.?

Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression / Studs Terkel

In this unique recreation of one of the most dramatic periods in modern American history, Studs Terkel recaptures the Great Depression of the 1930s in all its complexity. Featuring a mosaic of memories from politicians, businessmen, artists, and writers, from those who were just kids to those who remember losing a fortune, Hard Times is not only a gold mine of information but a fascinating interplay of memory and fact, revealing how the Depression affected the lives of those who experienced it firsthand.

House of Earth: A Novel / Woody Guthrie

Finished in 1947 and lost to readers until now, House of Earth is legendary folk singer and American icon Woody Guthrie's only finished novel. A powerful portrait of Dust Bowl America, it's the story of an ordinary couple's dreams of a better life and their search for love and meaning in a corrupt world.

Tike and Ella May Hamlin are struggling to plant roots in the arid land of the Texas panhandle. The husband and wife live in a precarious wooden farm shack, but Tike yearns for a sturdy house that will protect them from the treacherous elements. Thanks to a five-cent government pamphlet, Tike has the know-how to build a simple adobe dwelling, a structure made from the land itself - fireproof, windproof, Dust Bowl-proof. A house of earth.

An essay by bestselling historian Douglas Brinkley and Johnny Depp introduce House of Earth, the inaugural title in Depp's imprint at HarperCollins, Infinitum Nihil.

The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America / John F. Kasson

How the smile and fortitude of a child actress revived a nation.

Her image appeared in periodicals and advertisements roughly twenty times daily; she rivaled FDR and Edward VIII as the most photographed person in the world. Her portrait brightened the homes of countless admirers: from a black laborer's cabin in South Carolina and young Andy Warhol's house in Pittsburgh to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's recreation room in Washington, DC, and gangster "Bumpy" Johnson's Harlem apartment. A few years later her smile cheered the secret bedchamber of Anne Frank in Amsterdam as young Anne hid from the Nazis.

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Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression / Mildred Armstrong Kalish

I tell of a time, a place, and a way of life long gone. For many years I have had the urge to describe that treasure trove, lest it vanish forever. So, partly in response to the basic human instinct to share feelings and experiences, and partly for the sheer joy and excitement of it all, I report on my early life. It was quite a romp.

So begins Mildred Kalish's story of growing up on her grandparents' Iowa farm during the depths of the Great Depression. With her father banished from the household for mysterious transgressions, five-year-old Mildred and her family could easily have been overwhelmed by the challenge of simply trying to survive. This, however, is not a tale of suffering.

Kalish counts herself among the lucky of that era. She had caring grandparents who possessed - and valiantly tried to impose - all the pioneer virtues of their forebears, teachers who inspired and befriended her, and a barnyard full of animals ready to be tamed and loved. She and her siblings and their cousins from the farm across the way played as hard as they worked, running barefoot through the fields, as free and wild as they dared.
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Rainwater / Sandra Brown

The year is 1934. With the country in the stranglehold of drought and economic depression, Ella Barron runs her Texas boardinghouse with an efficiency that ensures her life will be kept in balance. She also cares for her ten-year-old son, Solly, a sweet but challenging child whose misunderstood behavior finds Ella on the receiving end of pity, derision, and suspicion. David Rainwater arrives at the house looking for lodging but Ella senses that admitting him will bring about unsettling changes. However, times are hard, so Mr. Rainwater moves in - and impacts her life in ways Ella could never have foreseen. The changes are echoed by the turbulence beyond the house walls. Friends and neighbors now face financial ruin and in an effort to save their families from homelessness and hunger, are forced to make heart rending choices. The climate of desperation creates a fertile atmosphere for racial tensions and social unrest. Conrad Ellis -- privileged and spoiled and Ella's nemesis since childhood -- steps into this arena of teeming hostility to exact his vengeance and demonstrate the extent of his blind hatred and unlimited cruelty. He and his gang of hoodlums come to embody the rule of law, and no one in Gilead, Texas, is safe. Particularly Ella and Solly. In this hotbed of uncertainty, Ella finds Mr. Rainwater a calming presence. Slowly, she begins to rely on his soft-spokenness, his restraint, and the steely resolve of his convictions. And on the hottest, most violent night of the summer, those principles will be put to the ultimate test.

Wall Street Wars: The Epic Battles with Washington that Created the Modern Financial System / Richard E. Farley

In the depths of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelts administration set out to radically remake Americas financial system?but Wall Street was determined to stop them. In 1933, the American economy was in shambles, battered by the 1929 stock market crash and limping from the effects of the Great Depression. But the incoming administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, elected on a wave of anxiety and hope, stormed Washington on a promise to save the American economy?and remake the entire American financial system. It was the opening salvo in a long war between Wall Street and Washington. Author Richard Farley takes a unique and detailed look at the pitched battles that followed?the fist fights, the circus-like stunts, the conmen and crooks, and the unlikely heroes?and shaped American capitalism.

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl / Timothy Egan

The dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since, and the stories of the people that held on have never been fully told. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist and author Timothy Egan follows a half-dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, going from sod homes to new framed houses to huddling in basements with the windows sealed by damp sheets in a futile effort to keep the dust out. He follows their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black blizzards, crop failure, and the deaths of loved ones. Drawing on the voices of those who stayed and survived - those who, now in their eighties and nineties, will soon carry their memories to the grave - Egan tells a story of endurance and heroism against the backdrop of the Great Depression.

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