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The Government Documents the 1930s

The U.S. Government took a strong hand in the life of America during the 1930s. It responded to the Great Depression with a New Deal and a with a Public Works Administration that created new jobs to jumpstart the American economy.

The Public Documents and Patents Department holds primary documents from this era that record its major events and developments:

Hoover Dam

Boulder Canyon Project Final Reports
I27.2 B66/12
Department of the Interior
Multi-volume set detailing the construction of Hoover Dam, including geological studies, design, construction, and power and water contracts.

Public Buildings
FW 5.2: P96/2
Federal Works Agency
Hundreds of photographs and floor plans of the major architectural projects funded by the Public Works Administration, which employed millions of American workers affected by the Depression.

Nature Trails
Board of Park Commissioners, City of Cincinnati
One of many travel books and local histories funded by the WPA's writers' projects, offering detailed profiles of the walking trails of Burnet Woods, Alms Park, Ault Park, Mt. Echo Park, and Mt. Airy Forest.

a 1936 highway

Bureau of Public Roads - Annual Reports
Department of Agriculture
Includes reports of the work relief highway projects which added thousands of miles to U.S. highways and culminated in the call for an interstate highway system.

Negroes in the United States
C3.2:N 31/2
Bureau of the Census
Demographic and occupational statistics on America's black population, derived from the 1930s census and tabulated by blacks themselves.

Padlock Procedure
T54.2 P13
U.S. Bureau of Prohibition
A guidebook of procedures for dealing with speakeasy violations of the prohibition laws, a major judicial concern of the 1930s.


Portraits from the New Deal
SI 11.2: P83
Smithsonian Institution Press
Profiles of the major players in the massive changes in American public policy during the decade, including the Roosevelts, Harry Hopkins and newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst.

The Ohio-Mississippi Valley Flood Disaster of 1937
W 102.2 Oh3
American Red Cross
Report of the relief operations from the great flood of 1937, with maps, charts, and photographs.

U.S. Patents
In the 1930s, inventors patented new products for the marketplace, including the traffic light (1,475,024), Monopoly board game (2,026,082), parking meter (2,118,318), transparent tape (1,760,820), a manmade fiber called nylon (2,130,948), and the photocopier (2,220,776). Beginnning in 1930, plants could also be patented, and the first protected flower and corn hybrids were introduced.