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The Great Depression Essay Topics

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

The Great Depression was one of the most challenging times in American history. This lesson offers some ideas that will help your students consolidate their understanding of this time period.

Writing about the Great Depression

As a teacher of modern American history, you probably spend plenty of time thinking about how to help your students understand the eras that have made the most difference in the overall American experience and ethos. The Great Depression is arguably such an era. The Great Depression represents one of the longest and hardest economic struggles in the country's history. Crime was at a peak, and many different groups of people struggled for their livelihoods. The New Deal that arose from the Great Depression had profound implications for how the country was to handle poverty for decades to come, and the experience of the Great Depression influenced the U.S.'s role in World War II. The essay topics in this lesson offer different windows for your students to think deeply about the Great Depression.

Essay Topics about the Great Depression Itself

This section contains topics that will focus students' attention on exactly what happened during the Great Depression.

  • Describe two to three major causes of the Great Depression. For each cause that you name, explain precisely how it unfolded, who the major players were, and how it led to the Great Depression. Weigh in with your view on whether the Great Depression was ultimately multicausal or had one major cause.
  • Write an essay analyzing Herbert Hoover's role in leading to the Great Depression. Use your essay to reflect on the extent to which the president has power over and can be blamed for problems with the economy.
  • Analyze the relationship between the Great Depression and crime in the United States. What sorts of crime rose and dropped most substantially during the Great Depression, and in what geographic areas were they the most pronounced? Why do you think crime was or was not substantial during the Great Depression, and what does this relationship teach you about crime overall?
  • Explain Franklin D. Roosevelt's approach to handling the Great Depression and particularly his architecture of the New Deal. How would you describe and account for Roosevelt's way of handling the Depression? What were some of the political obstacles he faced in putting his ideas into action, and how did he handle these challenges?
  • What was the role of women during the Great Depression? How did the Depression impact women differently from men, and what, overall, was the relationship between economics and gender during this time period?
  • Describe the different ways the Great Depression played out in different racial groups and communities. Postulate as to why these differences might have occurred and what they mean about the connection between race and economics overall.
  • Think about the concrete ways the Great Depression influenced the lives of children and families. Write an essay describing at least three specific changes that were common in family life during the time of the Great Depression. Theorize about what it would have felt like to have to undergo these changes.

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