Skip to Main Content

Great Depression and New Deal: A General Resource Guide

Digital Collections

The digital collections available from the Library of Congress are rich in primary and secondary source materials from all periods of U.S. history. You will find a broad range of formats in the collections ranging from first-hand accounts (both written and recorded) to documentation of people and events during this period of history. Visual and performing artists responded through folk song, theatrical performances, and visual materials. This section of the guide will assist you in locating relevant collections and individual items using the Library's website.

One way to begin researching digital materials available from the Library of Congress is to start by browsing by collection. Described and linked below are selected digital collections particularly rich in materials documenting life in the United States from the 1920s through the 1940s. Within each collection, it is possible to browse or search for materials within that collection—this can be helpful because these materials are often linked by a common creator, format, geography or subject area. Each digital collection may also include essays, links to related resources, bibliographies, illustrated timelines, etc. which can help to provide context fort understanding and exploring the materials.

For more information on searching, ways to narrow your search results, and for suggested keywords and phrases to use to help you get started, go to the "Search by Keyword/Phrase" tab here.

Another way to browse digital collections is by format type. While searching an individual collection can sometimes provide more focused and streamlined results, searching across the collections by format accesses a greater range of materials and allows for greater serendipity in the results.

Individual URLs provide access to all digital materials that match a particular format type (examples are linked below). From that format grouping, you will be able to "refine your results" using "facets" found in the left column of the screen—date, location, contributor, subject, language, etc.

Formats are also available as a search "limit" from the search box found on the Library's home page, as well as on many other pages throughout the website. You will see a drop-down menu to the left of the search box, and from that you can select a format that you would like to limit your search to.

Search box with drop-down format list exposed

The broadest possible search for digital materials is by keyword or phrase for "Everything" using the search box found at the top of the The Library of Congress homepage (pictured below):

Screenshot of the Library of Congress Search Box

Because this is such a broad search, your results set may be extremely large, and may include materials in a wide variety of formats—including general webpages, news releases, legislation, blog posts, and catalog records (although this search does not natively search the Library of Congress Online Catalog). In order to narrow your results, we encourage you to use search facets.


Use the facets (narrowing strategies) along the left side of the search screen to navigate your search results. Facets are particularly useful for quickly narrowing down a large set of results to the most relevant materials.  Narrower categories reveal themselves in stages, as you click through the facets. Facets categories available on the Library's website include:

  • Original Format (Photographs, Legislation, Maps, Manuscripts, Books, etc.)
  • Online Format (Image, PDF, Online Text, EPUB)
  • Date - To narrow your results down by date, you will need to select the largest applicable time span, e.g.1900-1999, then decade, e.g. 1930-1939 & then year = 1937.
  • Location: As with dates, use location facets to narrow down your results in stages—from a large geographical entity such as "United States," to smaller entities, such as a state, county, town, etc
  • Subject - Select the link at the bottom of the initial list to view More Subjects >> You will then be able to view these either alphabetically or by number of matches.
  • Language
  • Part of [Library of Congress] Collection
The broadest search of the Library of Congress digital collections and website can be done using keywords and phrases for historical materials related to the Great Depression and New Deal on the Library's website (try searching the program acronyms below as well!).
  • Business panics
  • Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
  • Depressions
  • Dust Bowl
  • Federal Art Project (FAP)
  • Federal Theatre Project (FTP)
  • Federal Writer's Project (FWP)
  • Food relief
  • Farm Security Administration (FSA)
  • Great Depression
  • Hoover, Herbert
  • Hooverville
  • Lange, Dorothea
  • Migrant Laborers
  • Names of FSA photographers
  • National Industrial Recovery Act
  • New Deal
  • Office of War Information (OWI)
  • Perkins, Frances
  • Poverty
  • Resettlement Administration (RA)
  • Roosevelt, Eleanor
  • Roosevelt, Franklin Delano
  • Stock Market Crash, 1929
  • Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
  • Unemployed
  • Unemployment
  • Work Relief
  • Works Progress/Work Projects Administration (WPA)