Dam Straight: Recovering from the Great Depression and the Hoover Dam with Dr. Spencer Wells

Dam Straight: Recovering from the Great Depression and the Hoover Dam with Dr. Spencer Wells


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Friday, June 11, 2021 at 3:00 PM EDT
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Join Dr. Spencer Wells to explore the end of the Great Depression.  Using the 726 foot Hoover Dam as a jumping-off point (not literally) we will explore the ways in which the Federal Government attempted to put Americans back to work in an effort to stave off the worst effects of the Great Depression.

Between 1931 and 1936, the US Government put Americans from across the nation to work on a 726-foot behemoth meant to stem the tide of the mighty Colorado River. During its construction over 21,000 men would work on the dam, pouring three and one quarter million tons of concrete in the process.

This interactive seminar will use the construction of one of the largest Federal works project in United States history to ask how the US government sought to right a nation beset by depression through a massive expansion of work projects. We will ask how the construction of the Hoover Dam helped to restore the nation's spirit during the Depression by putting citizens to work and helping inspire a massive tourist industry, while also exploring how other public works projects of the Depression contributed to the growth of America's National Parks and standards of living.

Led by an expert on American history, politics, and religion, Dr. Spencer Wells, this interactive seminar will explore the construction of the Hoover Dam and its role in national recovery.  Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the Public Works Administration and its role in developing not only infrastructure but also tourism in the United States.

This conversation is part of a three-part series on The Great Depression with Dr. Spencer Wells. Each session is designed as a stand-alone seminar as well as part of a three-week series.



Spencer Wells received his Ph.D. in American history from William & Mary in 2018. He is particularly interested in the overlap between politics, religion and war. He has taught courses on "Religion and War in Modern America" as well as "God in the White House" at the University of Virginia. He is currently writing a book on dissent in Mormonism in the mid-twentieth century as well as working on a volume on Quakers and religious tolerance in colonial America.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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