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New Deal resources

Genealogists often look at family history as being centuries in the past.

The stories of many-times-over great grandparents, not the stories of our grandparents’ generation, our parents’ generation, even in some cases those of us who are still alive today.

So to many of us, the New Deal is something we look at as personal history — not so much the sort of thing we tend to research for our family history.

And that’s a mistake.

Because we need to be capturing and researching our own stories, our parents’ stories, our grandparents’ stories, every bit as much as the stories of our many-times-over great grandparents.

And The Legal Genealogist just came across one great website that can help.

HallIt’s called the New Deal Network — launched in October, 1996, by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI), in collaboration with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Marist College, and IBM — and it’s “a research and teaching resource on the World Wide Web devoted to the public works and arts projects of the New Deal.”1

Like many other sites, it’s no longer being developed, but it remains available as a research tool with a focus of documenting the amazing time period of the Great Depression and the government response to it in the 1930s and 1940s through a database of photographs, political cartoons, and texts — speeches, letters, and other historic documents — from the New Deal period.

From an article written by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1928 advising women to learn to play the political game if they want their voices to be heard,2 to her 1955 comments at a conference on Social Responsibility for Individual Welfare,3 from photographs of disaster relief4 and public buildings,5 the Civilian Conservation Corps6 and the Rural Electrification Administration,7 this site has something for everyone looking at this time period.

In addition to its own resources, the site offers links to other research sources, including government agencies, local projects and oral history sources.

Our family history doesn’t begin hundreds of years ago. It begins with us.

So don’t overlook the time period at perhaps the very beginning of our own lives or in the lives of our parents and grandparents.

And — while the site is still available and online — before it disappears as so many other have — check out the New Deal Network and its resources.


Image: Hall County (Ga.) Courthouse after April 1936 tornado; NARA RG 69.

  1. About the New Deal Network,” New Deal Network ( : accessed 21 June 2016).
  2. Eleanor Roosevelt, “Women Must Learn to Play the Game as Men Do,” The Red Book Magazine, April 1928, html reprint, New Deal Network ( : accessed 21 June 2016).
  3. Eleanor Roosevelt, “Social Responsibility for Individual Welfare,” in James Earl Russell, ed., National Policies for Educational Health and Social Services, Columbia University Bicentennial Conference Series (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1955), xxxv-xxxviii, html reprint, New Deal Network ( : accessed 21 June 2016).
  4. Disaster Relief,” Photo Library, New Deal Network ( : accessed 21 June 2016).
  5. Public Buildings,” Photo Library, New Deal Network ( : accessed 21 June 2016).
  6. Civilian Conservation Corps,” Photo Library, New Deal Network ( : accessed 21 June 2016).
  7. Rural Electrification Administration,” Photo Library, New Deal Network ( : accessed 21 June 2016).
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