History Standards

The documents on this site can be used in a range of ways to meet the National Standards for United States History, created by the National Center for History in the Schools.

The documents here are most suited to upper level high school students. Most of the documents and resources on this site fit into Era 8, "The Great Depression and World War II (1939-1945). The first, however, on the economic roots of social insecurity, reaches further back, into Era 6, "The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)," and beyond as it traces the concept and history of economic security back in time and places it in the context of emerging capitalism and the emergence of modern industry. This multipage document is anonymous, but appears to have informed NCCC staff as they began to deliberate on economic security.

These documents, for the most part, however, are wonderfully illuminative of the deliberations that went on with respect to the need to address systemic and temporary poverty in the midst of the Depression, and therefore are much more related to Era 8.

Standard 1, "the causes of the Great Depression and how it affected American society" are addressed in the document "Economic Roots of Insecurity", which takes a broad overview of capitalism, industrialization, and how these systems affect the social and economic circumstances of the individual. Most of the documents address Standard 2, "How the New Deal addressed the Great Depression, transformed American federalism, and initiated the welfare state." The tight focus on the negotiations around the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935, moreover, enable teachers to focus exclusively on the most consequential legislation of the New Deal era, Social Security. NCCC General Secretary Monsignor O'Grady served on an advisory committee to the Economic Security Committee, which was charged with drafting the first version of the Social Security bill by President Franklin Roosevelt. In turn, O'Grady regularly consulted with diocesan-level directors of Catholic charity, apprising them of the developments related to the bill, gathering up their ideas on public welfare, and using his influence in Congress to make the NCCC position on the bill and its provisions known.

Toward illuminating these aspects of the 1935 Social Security legislation, the site features NCCC meeting minutes, Memoranda and Bulletins aimed at NCCC directors and staff clarifying positions related to unemployment, child welfare, public works programs, and plans to assist the elderly. Additionally, correspondence between O'Grady and various members of Congress are direct examples of how individuals and institutions lobby toward gaining passage of particular aspects of a bill or a bill itself. In such ways, students can better evaluate the significance and legacy of the New Deal (Standard 2C).

The site's documents and supporting materials also enable the development of all of the historical thinking skills: Chronological Thinking, Historical Comprehension, Historical Analysis and Interpretation, Historical Research Capabilities, and Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making. The documents, for the large part, span 1933-1935, covering the flurry of activity culminating in the passage of the act itself, and thus compel students to consider how the legislation was altered through a compressed period of time, and reconstruct the patterns of historical succession during the period. The documents also compel students to reconstruct the meaning of historical passages, and identify some of the central narratives of the Depression (e.g., how to construct an efficient and humane public welfare system that address the economic catastrophe affecting so many individuals). The engagement between the Catholic Charities leaders and administration and Congressional officials encourages students to appreciate historical perspectives, all developing historical comprehension and analysis and interpretation skills. Issues-analysis and decision-making are addressed here in that NCCC officials focus deeply on the legislation at hand, addressing it point by point in their meetings, as the minutes show. Research capabilities are encouraged, as the site stimulates investigation into primary documents related to Social Security, and ultimately, to investigate other New Deal legislation, as well as to ponder how such legislation has shaped our economic and social system of public welfare today.

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