Orientation to the 1930s

We have talked at several points about instituting an Expedition to the 1930s. I’ve been advised by several wise heads who watch over the Project that this would be a good thing, and we have the wonderful Montana resource of Mary Murphy’s Hope in Hard Times, which not only covers the history but provides lots of good information and good models of documentary photography, for which I, at least, have a particular fondness.

I’ve been reading materials to help make recommendations for teachers who want to know more about this critical period in American history.

Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War 1929-1945 won a Pulitzer for Stanford professor David Kennedy in 2000. Kennedy offers a detailed history of the period told with a smooth narrative thrust. It may be the best one-volume (a very big volume, though--936 pages) history of the period. Though generally sympathetic to FDR, Kennedy draws on recent research and acknowledges that FDR’s New Deal policies did not reverse the Depression.

This book gives details of what life was like in different parts of the country. Much attention is given to the rural/urban divide in American politices, and the extent of the suffering in rural areas is made clear. The book tells the stories of how policies were being made and adjusted by the various players. Roosevelt appears in a favorable light in terms of his sympathy if not always his competence.

A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960 by Milton Friedman and Anna J. Schwartz was published in 1963. Economist Hugh Rockoff at Rutgers ranks it as “the most significant book in the field of economic history in the twentieth century.” About a third of this hugely influential book is given to an analysis of the Great Depression, and Friedman and Schwartz helped convince most economists that the Keynsian interpretation of the Depression was inadequate. “The Great Depression, and the way it was interpreted by Keynesian economists, convinced a generation of American intellectuals that only socialism (or near-socialism) could save the American economy from periodic economic meltdowns” says Rockoff. But this book changed the interpretive direction of much 1930s history.

The book is written for a lay audience without specialized statistical knowledge. No formulas appear in the text. It’s a tome though, approaching 900 pages. The book’s influence is due in part to its accessible and majesterial style.

Rethinking the Great Depression is one of the more interesting of a good many books that argue that the Depression was worsened by FDRs politicies. Gene Smiley argues that the American economy had started to recover in the second quarter of 1933 and the summer of 1935, only to be stalled by mistaken New Deal policies. In his view, the Hoover administration was an unmitigated disaster, and the FDR administration compounded the nation’s economic problems through folly. Though the argument is based on sophisticated analyses, the writing is clear and concise. The book is short--only 175 pages.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 01/31 at 05:53 PM
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2005 Montana Heritage Project

Heritage Project featured at Core of Discovery

The Montana Heritage Project is featured on the website for the at NCTE Northwest Regional Conference which will be held in Lewiston, Idahao, March 16-19.

Several heritage projects will do presentations:

10:00 Writing the West: Beverly Chin, Jeanette Ingold, and Project teacher Christa Umphrey, Voices from 1910: Discovering Jeanette Ingold’s The Big Burn and the Fire that Changed the West.

11:15 Coyote in the Classroom: Darlene Beck and Julie Diehl, Piecing Together Our Community’s Past: Engaging English Students in the Fabric of Community and Communication

2:00 Coyote in the Classroom: Mary Sullivan, Hometown Heroes

3:00 Coyote in the Classroom: Dorothea M. Susag, The Beginnings of Oral History—Purpose, Procedure, Etiquette and Skills

4:00 Coyote in the Classroom: D. Beth Beaulieu, Local Heritage/Multi-genre Research Project for the English Classroom


10:00 Coyote in the Classroom: Nancy Widdicombe, Using Student Voices to Build Community

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 01/31 at 11:21 AM
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2005 Montana Heritage Project

Steering Committee Formed for New Historical Society History Center

Former First Lady Betty Babcock and former state attorney general and veteran legislator Joe Mazurek have agreed to co-chair the Montana History Center Steering Committee that is bringing people from across the state together in support of a new facility for the Montana Historical Society, Montana History Foundation Director Amy Sullivan said Friday.
“I have a passion for history as many Montanans do,? Babcock said. “The things our forefathers provided for us in the past must be saved and passed on to future generations. This new History Center will do that.?
Both Babcock and Mazurek said that the new History Center is a non-partisan venture that will help bring all Montanans together over the things they share as one people.
“I know with our own children we taught them the importance of our history as Montanans, and this land’s glorious and remarkable past,? Mazurek said. “History helps us be aware of and understand our different cultures and all that we share together.?
The Legislature will consider a proposal to acquire the current Capitol Hill Mall that has 250,000 sq. ft. of space on 13 acres of land that is a five-minute walk from the Capitol Building. This is an ideal location for the History Center.
Because of its interior design, the space is flexible and can be readily converted to museum exhibit space, research facilities, archive and artifact storage as well as classrooms, an auditorium and other public space.
“Our Montana collection of art, artifacts and research materials are the envy of the West, and this facility has the potential to meet long term goals and promote caring for and interpreting our history,? Montana Historical Society Director Arnold Olsen said.
Since there is limited land and parking availability in the Capitol Complex for a new History Center, Olsen said that the mall property presents a unique opportunity nearby.
“It reassures us that this effort is important with people like Betty Babcock and Joe Mazurek stepping forward to help get the job done,? Olsen said.
Babcock said using the existing property makes good economic sense because it would be cheaper than building a new facility and that the current Society building across from the Capitol could be used for other state office space. The present Society building is at capacity, she said.
“This allows us to work together as Montanans for an important cause such as having more room for showcasing the new, very valuable and popular Robert Scriver collection,? Babcock said.
“This is maybe a once in a generation opportunity to secure a property that will allow us to better display and show off the wonderful artifacts and art work that people from all across Montana have contributed over the years,? Mazurek said.
Both leaders agreed that the History Center would become an important focal point for the history and heritage of the entire state.
“Think of the thousands of school children who would come to it from across the state and learn how wonderful it is to be able to call yourself a Montanan,? Babcock said.
Olsen said the opportunity to consolidate into one complex will be more efficient for the Society and Montana citizens who use the museum, research center and other public programs and services.
“It also will be a very important economic development issue for tourism for the whole state as well,? Mazurek said. “History and art bring people to this state as well as our natural resources.?
The Legislature and the governor will decide the fate of this important project over the next few months, Sullivan said. The present owners have said that they must make a decision on the property soon.
The Montana History Foundation stands ready to seek support for the project from the people of Montana, Sullivan said.
“But it is critical to the success of the private fund raising efforts that we get a firm commitment that the project has the support of the state,? she said.
The steering committee urges people who support the project to contact their legislators to encourage their support, she said.

Posted by Marcella Sherfy on 01/29 at 11:43 AM
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2005 Montana Heritage Project
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