New Deal Programs

The New Deal was an amalgam of dozens of programs and agencies created by the Roosevelt Administration and the Congress.

Some came into being by law, some by executive order; some are well known, some are not; some changed names or were amended in mid-course; some lasted only a few years, some still exist.  It can be confusing, and we hope that this list can help sort things out.  The list of programs  is as complete as you will find anywhere.

For each New Deal program, there is a summary of the law, agency, goals and achievements, as well as key actors and legacies.  These are based heavily on primary sources (which are cited) and are as accurate as possible.

—Click on a program name and a pop-up text will appear.
—Click here for all New Deal programs listed alphabetically

—For a chronology of programs, see the New Deal Timeline page.

Economic Stimulus & Stabilization

National Industrial Recovery Act (1933)
Created National Recovery Administration (NRA).
Legalized industry collaboration for price controls and collective bargaining for labor.

Agricultural Adjustment Act (1933, Reauthorized 1938)
Created Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA).
Introduced measures to reduce crop supply, stabilize prices and support farm incomes.

Indian Reorganization Act (1934)
Land returned or added to tribal holdings, development of tribal businesses promoted, a system of credit established, a return to self-governance.

Virgin Islands Company (1934)
Rehabilitated the sugar and rum industries of the Virgin Islands; reduced unemployment; provided various farm services and loan programs; coordinated with a homesteading program.

Legislation for American Indians in Oklahoma and Native Alaskans (1936)
Extended provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act to these areas.

U.S. Travel Bureau (1937)
Helped increase recreational travel & tourism within the United States.

Bank Stabilization & Financial Reform

Emergency Banking Relief Act (1933)
Gave the president emergency powers over the US banking system, under which he called a ‘bank holiday’ to allow evaluation of all banks and closure of insolvent ones.

Glass-Steagall Banking Act (1933)
Created Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to insure personal bank accounts
Separated commercial from investment banking – The ‘Firewall.’

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) (1933)
Insured bank deposits against bank failure, up to a certain level.

Securities Act (1933) & Securities Exchange Act (1934)
Created Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Allowed federal regulation of stock trading in public corporations.

Gold Reserve Act (1934)
Called in all private gold and created a government hoard (Fort Knox).

Frazier-Lemke Farm Bankruptcy Act (1934)
Protected farms from creditor repossession.

Banking Act (1935)
Restructured and centralized the Federal Reserve Bank.

Public Utility Holding Company Act (1935)
Protected consumers from certain rate increases, and also from high-risk speculation activities.

Relief & Welfare

Federal Emergency Relief Act (1933)
Created the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA).
Gave financial aid to states to support local relief programs for the destitute.

Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation (FSCC) (1933) named Federal Surplus Relief Corporation (1933-1935), then Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation (1935-1940)
Distributed surplus food and commodities to those in need.

Social Security Act (1935)
Created a national system of pensions, unemployment insurance and aid to mothers with children, and created Social Security Administration (SSA) to administer it.

New Public Works Programs

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) (1933)
Created under Emergency Conservation Act.
Put unemployed, unskilled young men to work on rural and park improvements.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) (1933)
Created under the Tennessee Valley Authority Act.
Planned river basin development based on dams and hydroelectricity.

Public Works Administration (PWA) (1933)
Created under the National Industrial Recovery Act.
Paid private contractors to build large-scale projects proposed by states.

Civil Works Administration (CWA) (1933)
Created by Executive Order as temporary work relief under FERA.
Hired unemployed directly to work on local projects; became model for WPA.

Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) (1933)
Created under the Federal Emergency Relief Act to award grants to states for works programs to hire the unemployed and provide direct relief payments to the indigent.

Works Progress Administration (WPA) (1935) – renamed Work Projects Administration (1939)
Created by Executive Order to fund state and local public works projects.
Hired the unemployed directly and became the largest of all public works programs.

National Youth Administration (NYA) (1935)
Created by Executive Order as a subdivision of the WPA.
Hired young men and women, both in and out of school, for works programs.

Rural Electrification Administration (REA) (1935)
Created by Executive Order to bring electricity to isolated rural areas.
Made permanent by Rural Electrification Act (1936).

Soil Conservation Service (SCS) (1935)
Created by Soil Conservation Act (1935) to continue work of Soil Erosion Service (SES) created under Emergency Conservation Act (1933).

Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration (PRRA) (1935)
Large-scale public works program, hired thousands of unemployed men & women, long-lasting improvements to infrastructure, education, health, agricultural land, etc.

Expansion of Existing Public Works Programs

Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) (1918) – renamed Public Roads Administration (1939)
Built roads in national parks & forests, assisted states with road construction, helped beautify highways, and conducted various transportation studies.

U.S. Post Office Department (1792)
Worked with the U.S. Treasury, and later the Public Buildings Administration (PBA), to create new post office buildings and artworks in post offices.

Bureau of Reclamation (1902)
Built dams and irrigation projects in the western states and major river basin projects on the Columbia, Colorado & Sacramento River systems.

Army Corps of Engineers (1802)
Built levees, dams and canals across the country, built the Missouri river basin project and made levee improvements along the Mississippi, Ohio and Sacramento Rivers.

U.S. Armed Forces and National Defense Industries
Improvements to military bases, funding for Naval & Coast Guard vessels, jobs for defense industry workers & tradesmen, energy for airplane production, job training for young unemployed men & women, discipline & leadership skills in the CCC.

Arts & Culture Programs

Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) (1933)
Paid for by the CWA and operated by the U.S. Treasury.

Art & Culture Projects of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) (1934)
Plays, concerts, and artwork.

Treasury Section of Fine Arts (TSFA) (1934)– originally called Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture (TSPS) from 1934 to 1938, then Treasury Section of Fine Arts (TSFA) from 1938 to 1939, and then finally just Section of Fine Arts (SFA, located in the newly-created Public Buildings Administration, from 1939 to 1943 . 
Oversaw artworks created to enhance public buildings, notably post offices.

Treasury Relief Art Project (TRAP) (1935)
The smallest of the programs to hire unemployed artists to create public artworks.

Federal Project Number One (Federal One) (1935)
Created by the WPA to employ artists, writers, historians and other professionals
The largest of the arts programs, with five divisions:

Federal Art Project (FAP) (1935)
Federal Music Project (FMP) (1935)
Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) (1935)
Federal Theatre Project (FTP) (1935)
Historical Records Survey (HRS) (1935)

A reorganization in 1939 changed the names of the first three to WPA Arts Program,
WPA Music Program and WPA Writers’ Program, eliminated the Theater project, and made the HRS part of the WPA’s Research and Records Program.

Reorganization of Public Works Programs

U.S. Treasury, Public Buildings Branch (PBB) (1933)called Public Works Branch from 1933-1935, then Public Buildings Branch from 1935-1939
Part of new Procurement Division created to consolidate federal building activities.
Managed the construction and repair of most federal buildings.
Managed Treasury Section of Painting & Sculpture and Treasury Relief Art Project.

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) (1937)
Created by Bonneville Power Act.
Managed electric power grid and sales from the Columbia River project.

Public Buildings Administration (PBA) (1939)
Created under the Reorganization Act of 1939 to manage all federal (non-military) buildings, taking over the work of the U.S. Treasury Procurement Division.

Federal Works Agency (FWA) (1939)
Created under the Reorganization Act of 1939 as an umbrella agency to
administer existing public works programs, including the PWA, WPA, USHA, PRA (BPR), and PBA.

Federal Security Agency (FSA) (1939)
Created under the Reorganization Act of 1939 to manage a number of federal agencies & offices, including the the CCC, the NYA, and the Social Security Board.

Rural & Farm Assistance

Agricultural Adjustment Act (1933, 1938)
Created Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) for price stabilization and income support through government purchases, marketing boards, and land retirement.

Farm Credit Act (1933)
Created Farm Credit Administration (FCA).
Oversight of all farm credit programs & refinancing of farm mortgages.

Frazier-Lemke Farm Bankruptcy Act (1934)
Protected farms from creditor repossession

Virgin Islands Company (1934)
Rehabilitated the sugar and rum industries of the Virgin Islands; reduced unemployment; provided various farm services and loan programs; coordinated with a homesteading program.

Resettlement Administration (RA) (1935)
Evolved from earlier emergency relief legislation.
Created planned communities for Americans whose livelihoods had been upturned by the Depression; rehabilitated overused land; made loans to farmers.

Soil Conservation Act (1935)
Created Social Conservation Service (SCS) to help build soil protection and water conservation works, following on success of emergency Soil Erosion Service (SES).

Rural Electrification Act (1936)
Preceded by Executive Order creating Rural Electrification Administration (REA) (1935); brought electric grid to distant rural areas.

Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act (1937)
Provided aid to tenant farmers and sharecroppers.

Housing Aid & Mortgage Reform

Home Owners’ Loan Act (1933)
Created Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC).
Provided financial assistance to home owners and the mortgage industry.

National Housing Act (1934)
Created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to guarantee mortgages with banks
Created the Federal Savings & Loan Insurance Corporation to act like Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (see above) for Savings and Loan institutions.

United States Housing Act (1937)
Created U.S. Housing Authority (USHA) to build public housing.

Labor Law

National Industrial Recovery Act (1933)
Insured the right of workers to organize, provides for a national minimum wage and outlaws child labor.

Wagner-Peyser Act / U.S. Employment Service (1933)
Abolished and then re-formed the U.S. Employment Service (USES) into a more efficient agency; The USES helped reconnect jobless workers to the labor market.

National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) (1935)
Reaffirmed the right of collective bargaining, with rules and enforcement by a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Social Security Act (1935)
Provided unemployment insurance and social security taxes on payrolls and paychecks.

Fair Labor Standards Act (1938)
Restored rights lost when the National Industrial Recovery Act was overturned by the Supreme Court: minimum wage and no child labor.

Regulation of Trade, Transport, & Communications

Repeal of Prohibition (1933)
21st amendment to the Constitution approved by Congress, followed by states.

Export-Import Bank (1934)
Created to help facilitate trade with other nations; Began as two banks, consolidated into one in 1935.

Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (1934)
Led to trade agreements with 19 countries between 1934 and 1939.

Communications Act (1934)
Established Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate radio spectrum.

Civil Aeronautics Act (1938)
Established the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA); later split into the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to regulate carriers and the Civil Aeronautics Administration (later, the Federal Aviation Administration) to control air traffic.

Robinson-Patman Act (1936)
Also called the “Anti-Price Discrimination Act”; strengthened rules against monopolistic control and pricing (chiefly aimed at chain stores); complemented by Wheeler-Lea Act (1938).


These summaries are the work of Brent McKee, with assistance from Richard Walker.

If you spot an error or omission, please write us at [email protected]