PBS Great Depression Series, #7
Producer: WGBH, Boston
Narrator: Joe Morton
The seventh and final installment in the PBS Great Depression series, this film links the onset of World War II and the role of the United States as the primary producer of war materiel with the lingering struggles of the Great Depression. Blending oral history with photos from Dorothea Lange and others, archival films, and audio clips, “Arsenal of Democracy” details the persistent plight of the poor throughout the 1930s, especially for migrant workers, farmers, and the homeless who, despite the historical attention they received, often remained outside the public and political scope at that time. It also explores the social, cultural, and economic changes that the transition from peace to war wrought, such as the racism and discrimination that African Americans and Asians experienced during the 1930s and in hiring and job opportunities; the internment of Japanese Americans after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941; the use of racist imagery in wartime propaganda; greater employment opportunities for women and African Americans in wartime production; California’s incredible growth due to massive outlays of federal spending; and the end of the Great Depression.