Cover image for Historical dictionary of the Great Depression, 1929-1940
Historical dictionary of the Great Depression, 1929-1940
Olson, James Stuart, 1946-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
viii, 355 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E801 .H57 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Reference

On Order



Today when most Americans think of the Great Depression, they imagine desperate hoboes riding the rails in search of work, unemployed men selling pencils to indifferent crowds, bootleggers hustling illegal booze to secrecy-shrouded speakeasies, FDR smiling, or Judy Garland skipping along the yellow brick road. Hard times have become an abstraction. But there was a time when economic suffering was real, when hunger stalked the land, and Americans tried to forget their troubles in movie theaters or in front of a radio.

From the stock market crash of October 1929 to Germany's invasion of Norway, France, and the Low Countries in 1940, the Great Depression blanketed the world economy. Its impact was particularly deep and direct in the United States. This was the era when the federal government became a major player in the national economy and Americans bestowed the responsibility for maintaining full employment and stable prices on Congress and the White House, making the Depression years a major watershed in U.S. history. In more than 500 essays, this book provides a ready reference to those hard times, covering the diplomacy, popular culture, intellectual life, economic problems, public policy issues, and prominent individuals of the era.

Author Notes

JAMES S. OLSON is Professor of History and Department Chair at Sam Houston State University. He is the author of more than forty books, including Historical Dictionary of the 1970s (Greenwood, 1999), Historical Dictionary of the 1960s (Greenwood, 1999), and Historical Dictionary of the 1950s (Greenwood, 2000).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Olson (history, Sam Houston State Univ.) has authored several other dictionaries of US decades. This one includes some 500 entries on the US during the 1930s, emphasizing "economic problems, economic events, and the individuals most involved with them," with other entries "around popular culture ... and diplomacy, technology, and literature." Entries range from a few lines to two pages, each followed by a few "Suggested Readings" which are often not very helpful for students. The readings about persons, for example, almost always include--and are too often limited to--their obituary notices in the New York Times (why not Dictionary of American Biography or other standard biographical reference works?). For each Supreme Court case, the legal citation is given, but not Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, ed. by Leonard W. Levy and Kenneth L. Karst (2nd ed., CH, Feb'01) or other reference works that would be more useful in discussing a case. The "General Bibliography" is somewhat outdated and, as already noted, ignores the many reference works especially helpful for students. There is a very good index and a useful chronology of the period, but since other reference works can provide the information in these entries, and because of its bibliographical shortcomings, it is by no means a necessary purchase for most academic libraries. E. I. Farber emeritus, Earlham College

Table of Contents

The Dictionary
Appendix A
Appendix B General Bibliography