American Women's History: A Timeline
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1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939

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Amelia Earhart's solo Atlantic flight.
See: The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers [online]. W. Lafayette: Purdue University Libraries, [2002- ]. Available from:

As Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins becomes the first female cabinet member.
Frances Perkins (1880-1965). Draft notes of reply to F. D. Roosevelt on her nomination to the Cabinet. In Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries.


Ella Fitzgerald sings at the Apollo Theatre's amateur contest.
National Public Radio's profile of Ella Fitzgerald, highlights the audition for the contest and other key events in her career.

Mary Margaret McBride begins her radio program.
Historian Susan Ware dicussed her new book "It's One O'clock and Here is Mary Margaret McBride" [online]. Library of Congress, February 22, 2005.
Remembering Radio's Mary Margaret McBride [All Things Considered, National Public Radio, May 14, 2005]

Changing New York: Photographs by Berenice Abbott, 1935-1938 [New York Public Library]

The National Council of Negro Women is founded by Mary McLeod Bethune.

The Social Security Act becomes law.
Social Security Pioneers: Frances Perkins [Social Security Administration] includes digital audio of the NBC Radio Network program America's Town Meeting of the Air. Perkins explains and defends the recently passed Social Security Act. The site also includes audio clips from Perkins' speech from 1962, "The Roots of Social Security."

Clare Boothe Luce's scene description of her play The Women, ca. 1936 ["Words and Deeds in American History," Library of Congress]

Dorothea Lange's photograph, "Migrant Mother."
See Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" photographs in the Farm Security Administration Collection: An Overview [Library of Congress].

Letter, Eleanor Roosevelt to Walter White detailing the First Lady's lobbying efforts for federal action against lynchings, 19 March 1936 [Words and Deeds in American History, Library of Congress]

The World Center for Women's Archives, 1936 [New Jersey Historical Society]

Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God," is published.
Book Club of the Air: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston [Talk of the Nation, National Public Radio]

Billie Holiday first sings "Strange Fruit," a song about lynching in the South, at a New York Club in 1938. See: Margolick, David. Billie Holiday-Strange Fruit [Interview online]. Talking History, 4 February 2002. Available from:

Hendry, Donna. Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit: Using Music to Send a Message [online].

Katherine Dunham choreographs and produces her first full-length ballet, L'Ag'Ya.
Selections from the Katherine Dunham Collection at the Library of Congress

Pecan-Shellers' Strike [The Handbook of Texas Online]

Marian Anderson's Lincoln Memorial concert draws an audience of 75,000.
Listen to Marian Anderson, National Public Radio's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of this concert.
Marian Anderson Collection of Photographs, 1898-1992 [University of Pennsylvania Library] includes more than 20 photographs from this event.

Southern Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip [American Memory, Library of Congress]

Listen to Mary McLeod Bethune's speech, What Does American Democracy Mean to Me?, part of Say It Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches from American Radio Works.

Research Sources for This Time Period

Historical Overviews

America in the 1930s


Census Data

Historical Census Browser
Researchers can examine state and county topics for individual census years and over time, as well as generate maps of selected data.


Diaries & Letters

Secondary Sources

American Women's History: A Timeline

Ken Middleton
Middle Tennessee State Univ. Library
Murfreesboro, TN 37132