Collection Summary

The Great Depression Interview Collection contains 195 raw interviews from the seven-part series of the same name, which aired on PBS in 1993. The series covers the period from the stock market crash of 1929 to the beginning of World War II and uses archival footage, Hollywood films, and interviews with eyewitnesses to bring the period to life. The Great Depression won a duPont-Columbia Award and an Emmy for writing, and was nominated by the Television Critics Association (TCA) for the 1994 Program of the Year Award. The interviews focus on individual experiences of key events during the Great Depression, including eyewitness accounts of the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937, the New Deal, the End Poverty in California (EPIC) movement, the early work of the NAACP, and the labor movement. Interviews were conducted with authors, journalists, industrialists, activists, and historians, including Maya Angelou; Togo Tanaka, a Japanese-American journalist who later reported on conditions in Japanese internment camps; Leone Baxter, who started the first political consulting firm in the U.S.; historian John Hope Franklin; Trude Lash, a child-welfare activist who worked with Eleanor Roosevelt; and Tom Girdler Jr., son of Tom Girdler Sr., a chairman of Republic Steel. Subjects discussed include the U.S. economy, racism, politics, poverty, immigration, activism, organized labor, industry, and Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Collection Background

The Great Depression interviews were conducted by Blackside Productions, Inc., from 1991-1992 for the seven-part series of the same name, which aired in 1993. The series was created by filmmaker Henry Hampton. Materials were contributed to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) by the Film & Media Archive at Washington University in St. Louis.