Quick Definitions for Kids - Great Depression and New Deal Illustration

Great Depression and New Deal
Quick Definitions

For Kids - Quick Definitions

Stock Market & Finance

Black Tuesday - This term refers to the stock market crash of October 29, 1929; caused by unregulated bull market and too much buying on the margin and on credit. The stock market crash was not the only cause of the Great Depression, but it certainly contributed.

Buying on the margin - Refers to paying a small percentage of a stock's price as a down payment and borrowing the rest. Because of the boom of the Roaring Twenties, many people tried to get rich quick and buy on the margin in the stock market. Few were familiar with how the stock market worked. When it crashed, many lost everything. This was another cause of the Great Depression.

Credit - This is an arrangement in which consumers agree to buy now and pay later for purchases, often on an installment plan that includes interest charges

Dow Jones Industrial Average - Name of a widely used measure of the stock market's health

Federal Reserve Banks - There were 12 Federal Reserve Banks created in 1913. Their collective job was to ensure that local banks did not fail by providing loans and other help.

Stock - Name for a share of ownership in a company

Shareholder - Someone who owns stock in a company 

Speculation - This term refers to making risky business transitions on the chance of making a quick or considerable profit

Shantytowns - Cardboard "villages" or camps where homeless people lived on the outskirts of big cities during the Great Depression. 

Hoovervilles - Name given to shantytowns during the Great Depression. A Hooverville was a camp created by building shanties and shacks out of anything available. These camps were constructed by people who had lost their homes due to bank failures and other effects of the depression. Calling shantytowns Hoovervilles showed the disgust people had with President Hoover's lack of response to a growing crisis. 

The Bonus Army - WWI veterans had been promised money by the government for their service during the war.  The certificates issued were redeemable in 1945.  Approximately 17,000 veterans gathered in Washington DC to demand the money be paid now.  President Hoover sent the army in to disperse the gathered marchers.  During the confrontation, two (2) of the bonus army were killed and many others hurt.

Dust Bowl - Nickname given to a parched region of the Great Plains, where a combination of drought and soil erosion and bad farming techniques made crops die. Soil blew away in huge dust storms. These storms lasted for 10 years, destroying farmland.

The New Deal - FDR's restructuring of the Federal government in a series of new laws providing relief, recovery and reform, the 3 R's of the New Deal. These laws were designed to help Americans.

The Three Rs:

Relief - Immediate aid to the worst sufferers

Recovery - Laws and actions to get the economy going again

Reform - Set up programs that were permanent

Alphabet Agencies: Over 50 different agencies and programs were created during the New Deal. Some of the more important ones were: NRA, AAA, FDIC, SEC, Fera, CCC, TVA, SSA, PWA, CWA, WPA, NYA, REA, PBA, FHA. You can see why they were called alphabet agencies! Click here to learn more about these agencies, what the letters stand for, and what they were designed to accomplish.

Book and Radio Broadcast

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - This classic novel focuses on the difficulties faced by people who, forced off the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl, move to California

The War of the Worlds - One of the worlds most famous radio broadcasts of all time, created by Orson Welles, who also directed the movie classic "Citizen Kane".


Herbert Hoover, 31st President - This Republican won the presidential election of 1928. When it became obvious that the country was in a recession, Hoover opposed direct government handouts, and urged voluntary cooperation from wealthy individuals and towns. This did not work. More and more people were losing their jobs, their homes, their hope.

1932: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), 32nd President - This Democrat won the presidential election of 1932. He assumed presidency at the depth of the Great Depression.

Eleanor Roosevelt - First Lady, FDR's wife. Dear Mrs. Roosevelt letters

Huey Long - An extremely popular Senator from Louisiana. He claimed the New Deal policies failed to adequately help the common person and proposed a social program called "Share Our Wealth".  For Teachers

For Teachers: Lesson Plans, Classroom Activities, Powerpoints