New Jersey and the New Deal
After Franklin Roosevelt’s presidential election victory in 1932, the implementation of his "New Deal" policies impacted the daily lives of New Jerseyans in many ways, not only by the provision of relief for the unemployed, but through the increased regulation of the financial system (i. e., closing insolvent banks) and the development of projects to assist in economic recovery. By 1933, NJ had over 84,000 individuals on the rolls of the Emergency Relief Administration, while between 1930 and 1937 the number of the state’s unemployed more than doubled from 116,210 to 287,424.
Recovery projects set up by the Roosevelt administration involved agencies such as the Works Progress Administration, initially established in 1935 by executive order and later changing its name to the Works Project Administration in 1939. During the years from 1935-1942, over one million people were employed by the WPA nationally, and New Jersey was ranked among the top ten states in total number of WPA jobs, with the WPA spending more than $404 million dollars on NJ-based projects. These projects included construction of roads, buildings, recreational facilities and water and sewer systems, as well as arts and publications projects, such as the WPA Guide to New Jersey
and the funding of public art, such as murals.
Another New Deal approach to economic recovery involved the creation of new communities, such as the agricultural-industrial cooperative established in the town of Roosevelt in Monmouth County NJ, which was originally called "Jersey Homesteads." Established by the federal government’s Resettlement Administration in 1935, Jersey Homesteads is a case study in economic and social change that illustrates both the successes and shortcomings of the New Deal. The curriculum module entitled "Jersey Homesteads" invites teachers and students to examine New Deal policy as it was carried out in New Jersey, and develop their own conclusions about how this New Deal experiment embodies core themes in the history of the Great Depression and its impact on the United States.
Wasserman, Mark. "Great Depression." In Maxine N. Lurie and Marc Mappen, editors, The Encyclopedia of New Jersey. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Wasserman, Mark. "Works Progress Administration." In Maxine N. Lurie and Marc Mappen, editors, The Encyclopedia of New Jersey. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Shapiro, Arthur. "Roosevelt." In Maxine N. Lurie and Marc Mappen, editors, The Encyclopedia of New Jersey. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2004.