Eras in Social Welfare History


Social welfare policy and programs in America have roots going back to early Colonial days.

Use the drop-down menu to locate articles related to the following time periods. Some entries may appear in more than one time period, as historical periods overlap and events or issues may persist over multiple eras.


Colonial and Post-Revolutionary America (approx. 1600-1800)

The Antebellum Period (approx. 1800-1860)

The Civil War, Reconstruction, and Progressivism (approx. 1870-1914)

World War I and the 1920s (1914-1929)

The Great Depression (approx. 1930-1940)

World War II and the 1950s (approx. 1941-1955)

The Civil Rights Era

The War on Poverty

The 1970s and Beyond


The Great Depression

The “Great Depression,” the start of which historians usually associate with The Stock Market Crash of 1929, threatened all three of America’s major institutional sectors…

Harry Hopkins and Work Relief During the Great Depression

Harry Hopkins’ New Deal work relief and jobs programs, designed to overcome the economic devastation wrought by the Great Depression during the 1930s, included the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA)…