This Day in History

Aug. 14, 1935: The Social Security Act Passed

Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Disability, Economics, Labor, Laws & Citizen Rights

On Aug. 14, 1935, the Social Security Act was passed. Howard Zinn said in 1994 in a Rethinking Schools interview:

Emphasizing social and protest movements in the making of history gives students a feeling that they as citizens are the most important actors in history… Students should learn that during the Depression there were strikes and demonstrations all over the country. And it was that turmoil and protest that created the atmosphere in which Roosevelt and Congress passed the Social Security Act.

Read more in the interview, “Why Students Should Study History: An Interview with Howard Zinn.”

Rethinking Schools editor Adam Sanchez describes how he teaches about this period in history in “Who Made the New Deal?

Cover of one of the many pamphlets produced by the National Joint Action Committee in support of Congressman Ernest Lundeen’s social insurance bill. “What Every Working Woman Wants” was printed by Workers’ Library Publishers, New York City, in 1935. Courtesy of the Institute of Social Medicine and Community Health. Lundeen’s bill ultimately lost to the more conservative social security legislation.