On June 16, 1933, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt signed the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), the first piece of his landmark “New Deal” legislation. The New Deal sought to combat the Great Depression. New Deal programs focused on the “three Rs: Relief, Recovery, and Reform.”
 
The NIRA was divided into two sections. The first section addressed industry: strengthening labor rights, establishing health and safety standards, and guaranteeing economic competition. The second section established the Public Works Administration (PWA). The PWA was a construction program that built infrastructure such as dams, bridges, post offices, schools, and hospitals.
 
The NIRA and the PWA were just the start of the New Deal’s “alphabet soup” of federal agencies. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) put people to work on conservation and development of public lands, such as parks and forests. The NYA (National Youth Administration) focused on providing employment for men and women between the ages of 16 and 25. The WPA (Works Progress Administration) supported projects ranging from road construction to world-class arts programs: the formation of music ensembles, theater performances, murals and other artworks, and a series of state guidebooks.
 
Some of the “alphabet agencies” are still important today. The TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) provides electricity and flood control to the Tennessee Valley of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) continues to be the authority for all civil aviation in the U.S. The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) guarantees the safety of a depositor’s accounts in member banks. The SSA (Social Security Administration) provides retirement and disability benefits.
authority
Noun

person or organization responsible for making decisions.

aviation
Noun

the art and science of creating and operating aircraft.

bank
Noun

organization that loans, protects, and exchanges money to and from individuals and organizations.

civilian
Noun

person who is not in the military.

Noun

management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

construct
Verb

to build or erect.

disability
Noun

physical or psychological handicap.

economic
Adjective

having to do with money.

electricity
Noun

set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and flow of electric charge.

employment
Noun

job or work.

ensemble
Noun

group performance, or the group itself.

establish
Verb

to form or officially organize.

federal
Adjective

having to do with a nation's government (as opposed to local or regional government).

Noun

overflow of a body of water onto land.

Great Depression
Noun

(1929-1941) period of very low economic activity in the U.S. and throughout the world.

guarantee
Verb

to promise or confirm.

industry
Noun

activity that produces goods and services.

infrastructure
Noun

structures and facilities necessary for the functioning of a society, such as roads.

labor
Noun

work or employment.

landmark
Adjective

significant event or achievement.

legislation
Noun

law, legal act, or statute.

mural
Noun

artwork painted directly on a wall.

New Deal
Noun

(1933-1938) series of U.S. government programs intended to provide economic "relief, recovery, and reform" to Americans during the Great Depression.

public
Adjective

available to an entire community, not limited to paying members.

retire
Verb

to voluntarily stop or reduce the number of hours worked.

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