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Ad*Access Research Guide: 1931-1940

A portal into the Ad*Access digital collection that includes links to advertising categories and subcategories and historical context.

1931-1935

International Affairs

  • 1932. Antonio Salazar becomes Premier of Portugal and rules as a dictator for 36 years.
  • 1933. During this year in Germany: President Hindenburg appoints Adolph Hitler Chancellor of Germany; the Nazis burn the Reichstag and accuse the Communists of doing it; the democratic Weimar Republic falls; the government outlaws all parties other than the National Socialists (Nazis); Adolph Hitler rises to power, ousting the President and establishing himself as Führer and supreme ruler.
  • 1933. Stalin begins the great purge of the Communist party in the USSR. He arrests, imprisons and executes many old Bolsheviks. The purges continue until 1939.

U.S. Politics & Government

  • September, 1931. A bank panic spreads across the nation. Over 800 banks shut down in September and October.
  • 1932. Unemployment reaches 13,000,000 in 1932. Two and a half years after the 1929 stock market crash the U.S. economy operates at less than half its pre-crash volume.
  • November 8, 1932. Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected President in a landslide.
  • 1933. Frances Perkins becomes Secretary of Labor, the first woman cabinet member in U.S. history.
  • 1933. The new FDR administration demands, and receives, unprecedented power in an attempt to control an economy that has spiraled out of control. The new program, known as the New Deal, restructures the monetary system and creates an array of federal agencies to regulate private industry and find jobs for millions on government-sponsored projects.
  • 1933. The New Deal agencies that are created this year include the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA). The CCC is established to create more jobs by employing people to take part in a national reforestation campaign. The AAA restricts the production of crops and pays farmers a bounty for their unused land.
  • March 12, 1933. President Roosevelt's first Fireside Chat is broadcast on radio. These chats are an attempt to calm people during the tumultuous years of the Depression.
  • December 5, 1933. The 21st Amendment to the Constitution repeals prohibition, allowing the manufacture and sale of liquor in the United States once more.
  • 1935. The Social Security Act is passed.

Companies, Inventions, Discoveries & Technology

  • 1932. The first Polaroid glass is devised by Edwin H. Land.
  • 1934. Nylon is first produced by a chemist in DuPont Labs.
  • 1934. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad buys a diesel powered passenger train, the Burlington Zephyr, which sets a speed record for the trip from Denver to Chicago. Lines begin to adopt diesel powered locomotives because of their speed, relatively low noise levels and cleanliness compared to steam engines, which virtually disappear by 1960.

Humanities and the Arts, Entertainment & Sports

  • 1931. Sanctuary by William Faulkner is published.
  • 1932. Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly across the Atlantic alone.
  • 1933. Aaron Copland composes Short Symphony, considered one of the finest works of classical music of this era.
  • 1934. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald is published.

Miscellaneous

  • March 1, 1932. The Lindbergh kidnapping, one the of most highly publicized crimes of the 20th century, occurs. Months after the $50,000 ransom is paid, Charles Lindbergh, Jr. is found dead in woods near the Lindbergh house. Kidnapping becomes a federal crime.

1936-1940

International Affairs

  • 1936. Germany invades the Rhineland, which it had lost to France in WWI.
  • 1936. Italy annexes Ethiopia.
  • 1936. The Spanish Civil War is fought. Many Americans volunteer, including novelist Ernest Hemingway.
  • 1938. President Roosevelt sends private memoranda to Britain, France, Germany and Czechoslovakia recommending arbitration of the Sudetenland crisis. This set the stage for the Munich Pact (Sept. 29). Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister, declares "peace in our time" after Hitler agrees to sign the non-aggression pact.
  • August 23, 1939. Nazi - Soviet Non-aggression Pact signed, including the SecretAdditional Protocol regarding the division of Poland between Germany and the USSR.
  • September 1, 1939. Germany invades Poland.
  • September 3, 1939. Great Britain and France declare war on Germany. The U.S. and Belgium declare neutrality, as World War II begins in Europe.
  • May 10, 1940. Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of Britain after the resignation of Neville Chamberlain.
  • September 27, 1940. Germany, Japan and Italy sign the Axis, or Tripartite, Pact.
  • 1940. Germany occupies Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and France. The Battle of Britain begins.

U.S. Government & Politics

  • 1936. Part of Roosevelt's New Deal policies, the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), is deemed unconstitutional by theSupreme Court.
  • 1938. Wheeler-Lea amendments to the Federal Trade Commission Act granted the FCC added power to curb false advertising.
  • May 26, 1938. The House Committee to Investigate un-American Activities (HUAC) is created.
  • November 5, 1940. FDR is elected to an unprecedented third term.

Companies, Inventions, Discoveries & Technology

  • 1936. The perfusion pump, the first artificial heart, is invented by scientists at Rockefeller University in New York.
  • 1936. The National Guard prepares to assault strikers at the General Motors (GM) plant in Flint, Michigan. At the last minute Walter Knudsen, head of GM, agrees to recognize the United Auto Workers union.
  • May 6, 1937. First coast to coast radio broadcast is a report of the Hindenburg disaster. The Hindenburg, a transatlantic lighter-than-air floating passenger ship, crashed and exploded upon landing in New Jersey.
  • 1940. Rh factor in human blood is discovered.
  • June 28, 1939. The first regular transatlantic passenger air service begins when Pan American Airways (PanAm) flies 22 passengers from Long Island to Lisbon, Portugal. The trip lasts 23 hours, 52 minutes.
  • October 25, 1939. Nylon stockings are first sold in the United States.
  • 1940. Radios are in 30 million American homes.

Humanities and the Arts, Entertainment & Sports

  • 1936. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is published.
  • 1937. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is published.
  • December 21, 1937. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first animated feature film, is released by Disney.
  • October 30, 1938. Orson Welles broadcasts an adaption of the H.G. Welles' book War of the Worlds. Hysteria ensues across the country, especially in New York and New Jersey, as many listeners mistake the dramatic play for actual news coverage of an alien invasion of the United States.
  • 1939. Gone with the Wind is released as a movie.
  • 1940. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway is published.

Miscellaneous

  • 1936. Boulder Dam, later renamed Hoover Dam, is completed, creating the largest reservoir in the world.
  • 1938. Three Russian women set a world record with their non-stop 6,000 km flight from Moscow to the southeastern tip of Siberia.
  • 1939. Konrad Zuse of Berlin creates a prototype mechanical binary programmable calculator.