This unit can be used by grades nine through twelve in American history, government, sociology or local studies courses. The essay provides a narrative for the teacher and leaves room for further investigation in many directions. The unit is aimed toward student participation in oral history research using family members or neighbors as sources. A suggested time length is from two to four weeks.
Between 1930 and 1950, Connecticut people shared two great experiences. The first was a severe economic depression which lasted for most of the 1930s and affected Connecticut deeply. World War II began in Europe in 1939 and ended in 1945, creating an enormous industrial growth in the state, and bringing about full employment, but giving rise to other social and governmental problems. By 1950, attitudes toward the role of state government were greatly different in Connecticut than they had been twenty years before.
The essay presents an overview of developments which helped shape Connecticut from immediately after the stock market crash in 1929 into the beginning of the Korean War and the gubernatorial election of 1950. Connecticut changed during those years from a place where the least possible government was strongly desired by an independent-minded citizenry into a more complex society where state government played an increasingly larger role in the everyday life of the people.
Three lesson plans are inserted in the essay. The first offers an oral history project concerning the Depression in Connecticut. A second lesson presents the same basic idea dealing with the wartime years in Connecticut. The third presents material for a debate between sides or individuals representing J. Henry Roraback, Republican political boss of the state in 1930, and John M. Bailey, Democratic Chairman in 1950, a man on his way to becoming a political boss. A list of suggestions for individual research on Connecticut 1930-1950 is included.