Favorite New Deal Site

Tell Us About Your Favorite New Deal Site

Send us a first-person story of 100 (or so) words describing the site and why you chose it. Submissions will appear in future issues of The Fireside! Be sure to include a photo (with photo credit). Send to [email protected]. Thanks!

An East Texas Treasure


CCC men at Caddo Lake State Park. Courtesy, NARA.

In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps arrived at Caddo Lake State Park, a maze of sloughs, bayous and backwaters in Uncertain, Texas, hard by the Louisiana border. Beset by mud, mosquitoes and local political bickering, the men dredged the lake, built roads and trails and constructed the entrances, pavilion, shelters, cabins and campsites using materials harvested from the surrounding parkland. My father took me there on my first fishing trip six or seven years later. We met our guide near the lake. He steered our rowboat through giant bald cypress trees draped with Spanish moss. The sun was visible only briefly at noon. I came equipped with a cane pole and a bobber. I don’t remember catching any fish that day, but seventy-five years later, Caddo Lake State Park is still my favorite New Deal site.
 
— Milton Jordan, Georgetown, Texas

Mary McLeod Bethune Statue Installed in the Capitol

“Invest in the human soul.
Who knows, it may be a diamond in the rough.”

 
Statue of Mary McLeod Bethune, unveiled at the Capitol on July 13, 2013. Credit: CNN.com.

This famous quote by the educator and civil rights activist Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) is inscribed on the pedestal of her statue, recently installed in Statuary Hall at the US Capitol. Her statue replaces that of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith. The daughter of formerly enslaved parents, Bethune, founder of the Council of Negro Women, advised multiple US presidents. She was the only woman to serve in FDR’s “Black Cabinet,” and he appointed her to head the New Deal’s National Youth Administration (NYA). The 11-foot marble statue, by the Hispanic sculptor Nilda Comas, depicts Bethune holding a walking stick, a symbol of wise leadership. The walking stick is modeled on the one Bethune received as a gift from President Roosevelt.

Living New Deal NYC Chapter: Historical Signs Project

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In 2020, the Living New Deal NYC Chapter began a collaboration with the NYC Parks to install new signage at New York City public facilities that were built in 1930s by New Deal agencies. Limited evidence remains today of the accomplishments of the New Deal in New York City. To fill this gap in the city’s history, 22 new historical marker signs including a mention of their New Deal provenance, have been installed at all 11 pools through NYC Parks’ Historical Signs project. Find more details here.

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New Deal Exhibit at the Royal Philatelic Society in London

Charles Epting, President and CEO of H.R. Harmer, will be showing his collection of mail and other postal history from the era of New Deal to the Royal Philatelic Society in London.

During the New Deal era, Postmaster General James A. Farley issued a stamp that promoted the work the National Recovery Administration, an organization that was subsequently declared unconstitutional. This exhibit offers insight into the story of the stamp production and glimpses of the human stories of those employed by the New Deal.

LND NYC Chapter Webinar: Preparing for War – How the New Deal Helped America Join the Fight Against Fascism and Win World War II

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The USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier commissioned by the US Navy, was built with federal Public Works Administration (PWA) funds during the 1930s. The vessel served during World War II and was lost in the Battle of Midway in 1942.
Preparing for War: How the New Deal Helped America Join the Fight Against Fascism and Win World War II

A bicoastal dialogue featuring Kevin Baker (East) and Bob Leighninger (West) on ZoomWednesday, February 16, 2022, 8:00 ET/5:00 PT
 
RSVP Here
It is often said that the New Deal didn’t end the Depression—the war did. But Baker and Leighninger contend that the opposite is the case. The many programs devised by the Roosevelt Administration to combat the Great Depression also provided the personnel, infrastructure, and experience that allowed the country to respond to the expansionist aims of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan swiftly and effectively, turning the tide in favor of the Allies and ultimately winning the war.The sheer speed of the U.S. response is all the more telling when you consider that as late as 1938, the United States had the 17th largest army in the world, right behind Rumania.To probe the connections between the New Deal, war preparedness, and the Depression, Kevin Baker will interview Bob Leighninger, who is writing a book on the topic. Together, they will explore these relationships, dive into the specifics, and query the transformation of America into a modern superpower.
 
Kevin Baker is a novelist, historian, and journalist. He has recently completed a book on the history of New York City baseball and is currently working on a cultural and political history of the United States between the wars, for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017. He has written for many major periodicals and is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine

Bob Leighninger is a former professor of sociology at SUNY-Oswego and the past editor—for nearly 40 years—of the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare. He is the author of two books: Building Louisiana: The Legacy of the Public Works Administration and Long-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal. And he’s working on a third, focused on the theme of this evening’s discussion.
 

Living New Deal Webinar Series: “The New Deal Artistry of Jo Mora”

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Courtesy, Jo Mora Trust
JOIN US!

“The New Deal Artistry of Jo Mora”

Tuesday, January 18, 5pm PST

Adventurer, author and artist of the American West, Jo Mora worked as a cowboy, a guard on a Mexican railroad, and lived with the Hopi in Arizona before settling in California, where he briefly worked for the Federal Art Project. 

Read more about Mora.

Featuring Peter Hiller, Jo Mora Collection Curator and author of The Life and Times of Jo Mora: Iconic Artist of the American West and Historian Harvey Smith, Project Advisor to the Living New Deal. Free. 

REGISTER


COMING ATTRACTIONS
 
 Thursday, February 24, 5pm PST
“A New Deal for Native Art”
With Dr. Jennifer McLerran, author of A New Deal for Native Art: Indian Arts and Federal Policy, 1933–1943 and the forthcoming book, A New Deal for Navajo Weaving—Reform and Revival of Dine Textiles.
Free. REGISTER
 
Thursday, March 17, 5pm PDT
“Los Tres Grandes—Mexican Muralists’ Influence on the Artists of the WPA”
With Harold Porcher, Director of Modern & Post-War Art at Swann Auction Galleries in New York.
Free. REGISTER
 
Friday, April 22, 5pm PDT
“Art and Intersections: The Harlem Renaissance Meets the New Deal” 
With Dr. Stephanie Anne Johnson. Dr. Johnson is on the faculty of the Visual and Public Art Department at Cal State, Monterey Bay. 
Free. REGISTER
 
Thursday, May 19, 5pm PDT
“New Deal Photography Through the Lens of Arthur Rothstein”
With Dr. Annie Rothstein Segan, Director of the Arthur Rothstein Legacy Project, New York.
Free. REGISTER

The Living New Deal documents the vast legacy the New Deal (1933-1942) left to America
and the spirit of public service that inspired it.
We welcome your support.


Dancing That Others May Walk

The Fireside—News and Views from The Living New Deal

Dancing That Others May Walk

Shirley Temple at FDR Birthday Ball

Shirley Temple at FDR Birthday Ball
Courtesy, Imgur.com.

As president, FDR used his birthday, January 30, to advance his most important cause—raising awareness and money to eliminate polio, a disease FDR knew first hand. In 1934, more than four thousand communities across the nation came together at 600 celebrations for what would become an annual “Birthday Ball.” They raised millions of dollars for the Warm Springs Foundation, a charity FDR founded in response to the scourge. He later chaired the March of Dimes.
  Many today seem to have forgotten that such efforts led to breakthrough vaccines that eradicated polio throughout much of the world. Roosevelt likened the fight against polio to war. “It strikes with its most frequent and devastating force. And that is why much of the future strength of America depends upon the success that we achieve in combating this disease.”

 

Nicholas Kristof Draws Comparisons between “Build Back Better” and New Deal

In a piece titled, “Biden’s Plan Isn’t ‘Spending’ but ‘Investing,'” Nicholas Kristof compares President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan to the New Deal programs that built the physical infrastructure of the nation. Using the example of the Yamhill-Carlton High School built by the Public Works Administration, Kristof argues that the Biden plan is, “not an ‘expense’ but an ‘investment’.” Read the full piece here.


Photo: Nicholas Kristof

LND Advisor June Hopkins Participates in Roosevelt House Panel

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Living New Deal Advisor June Hopkins, the granddaughter of key New Dealer Harry Hopkins, participated in a panel discussion with other descendants of the original F.D.R. Cabinet and Brain Trust descendants during a conference titled, “The New Deal Then and New: What is the Role of Government in Response to Great Crises?” and presented by the Roosevelt House.

PROGRAM

The descendants of the original F.D.R. Cabinet and Brain Trust introduced a new public program presented in-person and on zoom “The New Deal Then and Now: What is the Role of Government in Response to Great Crises?”

As the nation awaits a vote on President Biden’s historic infrastructure bills—a “new New Deal,” as many have called it—Roosevelt House hosts a public conference examining the lessons of FDR’s original New Deal, and how those lessons can inform the federal response to the most challenging set of crises since the Great Depression. The program will be led by descendants of Franklin Roosevelt’s own Cabinet members and “Brain Trust.”

This in-person conference—also available to attend virtually on Zoom—is the result of the vision and determination of a group of descendants of the FDR administration who, for more than a year, have urged Congress to embrace a transformational legislative agenda—and launch a 21st Century New Deal for the benefit of all Americans. Joining them for the conference will be noted authors, historians, and advocates.

Three one-hour sessions examine the following vital and timely questions: How did FDR’s New Deal save the country, and how did promoters of limited government push back? What’s at stake now?—a consideration of jobs, climate change, filibuster reform, and voting rights; and, the central question: what makes this the time for a modern New Deal?

Participating descendants include:

Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall is the grandson of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Labor Secretary, and founder of the Frances Perkins Center.

David Hopkins Giffen is the great-grandson of Harry Hopkins, WPA Administrator and Commerce Secretary, and the Executive Director of Coalition for the Homeless.

June Hopkins is the granddaughter of Harry Hopkins, WPA Administrator and Commerce Secretary, and the author of Harry Hopkins: Sudden Hero, Brash Reformer. 

James Roosevelt, Jr. is the grandson of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and serves as co-chair of the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee. 

Phoebe Roosevelt is the great-granddaughter of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, a high school history teacher, and an attorney who served in the Affirmative Litigation division of the New York City Law Department.

Henry Scott Wallace is the grandson of Henry A. Wallace, FDR’s Vice President and Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, and is a former congressional candidate and co-chair of the Wallace Global Fund.

Participating authors, journalists, historians, and advocates include:

Jonathan Alter is a journalist, historian, documentary filmmaker, and the author of The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope and, most recently, His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life.

Nancy MacLean is Distinguished Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University and the author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.

David Riemer is a Senior Fellow at Community Advocates Public Policy Institute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the author of Putting Government in its Place: The Case for a New Deal 3.0.

Mary Ellen Sprenkel is President and CEO of The Corps Network, a nationwide network of public-service job corps, and helped the White House design the new Civilian Climate Corps.

Michael Waldman is the president of the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law and the author of The Fight to Vote and The Second Amendment: A Biography.

Adam Jentleson was deputy chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and author of Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy.