The Great Depression

History 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

This curriculum is designed to provide teachers with economic lessons that they can share with their 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,” 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 Curriculum (Video Interview Series)

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 their stories.

Economic Episodes in American History: The Great Depression (Presentation Videos)

David Wheelock, vice president and deputy director of Research, gave a presentation on “The Great Depression” on July 11, 2013, as part of an economic education workshop at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

The Great Depression: Q&A

St. Louis Fed economist Dave Wheelock is an expert on the economics of the Great Depression. He sat down to answer some 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 a wealth of other economics and personal finance education materials prepared by Federal Reserve economic education experts.

Back to Top