Discovery Tour: Hidden Collections | For the Greatest Number: The New Deal Revisited

It’s been ninety years since the crisis of the Great Depression inspired the New Deal’s government investment and aid. But it’s not just history. The country is again facing a choice: What do we owe our neighbors? What does our country owe us? The Great Depression was a national crisis that affected everyone — but not equally. Inherited wealth and white supremacy have a long history of making bad times less bad for those with privilege.

Here in Philadelphia, unemployment was double the rate of the surrounding suburbs, nearly 100,000 people were evicted, and the city provided no organized relief. The art and objects funded by New Deal programs show us how workers shaped the country in the 1930s. The posters and prints are beautiful, but they are also an argument about our national values. How does the continuing legacy of white supremacy shade claims about equal rights? Is hard work the highest good? Do we care about the land, or our neighbors, or the future?

We hope visitors to the exhibit or its programs are inspired to think about these questions and the ways in which the people of the United States have faced crises before, and how we can face today’s crises.

Special Notes

This tour will meet at the Free Library Parkway Central Branch: 1901 Vine St, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

Required Supplies:

  • Please bring a notepad and something to write with.