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Week Twelve: The Great Depressions in the Northwest


Authentic History Center

The focus is on economics this week as we examine the various depressions that hit our region in the 1920s and 30s. Professor Wiltse’s Lecture (approximately 41 minutes) outlines the Montana depression in the 1920s and the Great Depression in our region in the 30s.  Maps & Cityscapes presents Seattle’s Hooverville in words and photographs, while Tribal Perspectives features the Meriam Report and interviews relating to economic life on the reservations.  

People and the Humanities gives a biography of Montana Senator Burton K. Wheeler and excerpts from the Federal Writer’s Folklore Project.  In addition to our top reading and viewing picks, Research also asks you to consider the demographic changes caused by the Depressions.

Assignment suggestions for this week’s content include:

  • When teaching regional history, we often try to show how national events or trends played out on the local level, but this week Professor Wiltse told us about how Montana did not follow the national economic boom in the 1920s.  In what other ways do regions differ from national life, and what does it mean to those places to be so different?  This might work especially well when discussing the causes of the Civil War.
  • What is the psychological toll on a population in times of crisis?  How does a national (or in this case international) crisis, and such a shared experience, change how the people of that country see themselves?
  • Tribal Perspectives this week deals with the extreme poverty on reservations.  What are the various ways groups of people, either on their own or in conjunction with governments, attempt to deal with poverty?  What are the effects of long-term poverty on any given group of people?

Tacoma Public Library