The Formation of American Historiography of the New Deal (1930s – early 1960s)

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The article analyzes the formation of American historiography of the New Deal based on a comprehensive study of scientific and journalistic literature. The initial assessments of the New Deal date back to the presidential campaign of 1932 when it was still a preliminary theoretical reform program. During the political debates of the 1930s, opponents of F. Roosevelt criticized the New Deal because, in their opinion, it did not align with American traditions, operated with un-American approaches to public administration, etc. These assessments were significantly influenced by the international situation related to the crisis of capitalism and democratic governance in Europe. Political opponents, referring to experience overseas, unjustly regarded the New Deal as a manifestation of one of the European radical “isms”. The author of the article found that such assessments did not find a wide response in society, and the scientific works of researchers who defended similar theses were on the margins of historical debates around the New Deal.

The publication of their memoirs by most members of F. Roosevelt’s cabinet and his advisers, as well as the opening of access to the President’s library in Hyde Park, contributed to the formation of the first scientific assessments of the New Deal in the late 1940s. The historiography of the New Course had its “founding fathers”, to whom the author of this article includes – Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., B. Rauch, R. Hofstadter, F. Freidel, J. Burns, and W. Leuchtenburg. These researchers established a scientific basis that remains valid to this day, despite various attempts to revise it. They established certain historiographical trends and approaches to research and interpretation of this period in the 1950s. The author determined that the 1950s were marked by a debate between two schools of historical thought – Progressive and Consensus, regarding what the New Deal was – a continuation of the reform movement of previous decades, a turning point, or a revolution in American life and politics. In the research, the author considered and analyzed the main arguments and counterarguments of each of the schools.


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How to Cite
Lushchak, V. (2024) “The Formation of American Historiography of the New Deal (1930s – early 1960s)”, Problems of World History, (24), pp. 172–192. doi: 10.46869/2707-6776-2023-24-7.
Author Biography

V. Lushchak

Lushchak Viktor – Junior Research Fellow of the State Institution “Institute of World History of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine”.


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