The Great Depression

Man in suit has sign reading Who will help me get a job, I do not want charityHistory holds many economic lessons. The Great Depression, in particular, is an event that provides the opportunity to teach and learn a great deal about economics—whether you’re studying the economic reasons that the Depression took place, the factors that helped it come to an end, or the impact on Americans who lived through it.

The Great Depression Lesson Plans and Online Modules

Teachers, this curriculum for high school provides you with economic lessons you can share with your students to help them understand this significant experience in U.S. history. It begins with a message from Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and an introductory essay, “The Great Depression: An Overview,” (PDF) written by David C. Wheelock, a research economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and an expert on the Great Depression.

We also have launched the Great Depression lessons as online modules in the Econ Lowdown teacher portal. Learn more about the modules.

The Great Depression: Video Interviews

What was life like during the Great Depression? Byron and Sam were entering the workforce when the Great Depression began. Margaret was 12 and lived on a farm. Raymond and Anna Marie were young children. Listen to these first-person stories from St. Louis-area residents.

Economic Episodes in American History: The Great Depression, Presentation Videos

What factors led up to the Great Depression? What are lessons still relevant today? Watch these video clips from St. Louis Fed expert David Wheelock presenting on “The Great Depression” during an economic education workshop.

The Great Depression: Q&A

St. Louis Fed economist Dave Wheelock is an expert on the economics of the Great Depression. He answers common questions about parallels between the Great Depression and the financial crisis that began in 2007.

Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression, Lesson Plan

Looking for a Great Depression teaching tool for younger children? This lesson for 7- to 9-year-olds helps students differentiate between goods, services, barter, and money. Students are led through several rounds of a barter activity that incorporates math skills.


Like what you see in this Great Depression Curriculum section? Find more economics and personal finance education materials prepared by Federal Reserve economic education experts.

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