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The Great Depression and World War II
1929 - 1945

Along with events such as the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression helped to shape modern-day America. The circumstances of the Great Depression enlarged the role of the government in the everyday life of Americans, particularly through FDR's New Deal initiative.

World War II helped not only to bring the nation out of the Depression, but also put the United States on the world stage as a leader. Unlike previous administrations who subscribed to a certain level of isolationism, both FDR and Truman placed the United States on a path to strong involvement and leadership in worldwide conflicts and reform movements. Additionally, World War II changed the role of women who went into the workforce as American men went to war. Events such as the bombing at Pearl Harbor, liberation of concentration camps, and the use of atomic bombs provide images and stories that have helped to shape future American foreign policy.

Learn more in the National U.S. History Content Standards

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I fought for Virginia - Now it's your turn! : Join the Lee Navy Volunteers, World War II Poster, c. 1942

During World War II the American government asked civilians to participate in the war effort. A common way for the government to communicate with civilians was through posters hung in public places. Inspirational, informative, instructive,…

2nd Lt. Alice C. Thompson, L-201903, Photograph, 1944<br />

Second Lieutenant Alice C. Thompson, L-201903, is shown with a  Women's Army Corps (WAC) Honor Platoon that received Good Conduct Ribbons as one of the features of WAC Day, Saturday, February 19, 1944. The ribbons were awarded to enlisted personnel…

Helps For Homemakers Booklet, c. 1943–1945

This World War II–era booklet is one in a series produced by the Kelvinator appliance company as part of a “wartime idea exchange for home economists [known today as a homemaker or stay-at-home parent].”  Kelvinator held a national contest  and…

Photograph of Painting of Pocahontas, copied by W. L. Sheppard, 1939

Touted as the largest and most magnificent exposition of all time, the New York World’s Fair opened at Flushing Meadows in April 1939. In the Court of States, one exhibition was strikingly different from the rest: the Virginia Room, “an island of…