Members of John Hopkins University adjust a telescope in Camptonville, California. Scientists look in the mirror. Moon blankets the sun as eclipse darkens.
A film depicts an impressionistic study of Washington DC on a typical Great Depression day. Clark Mills's Lieutenant General George Washginton equestrian statue at Washington Circle. A cemetery and men work at the cemetery. They use a machine to help lift old grave markers up out of the ground. The grave markers appear to be circa civil war era. A marker with number 7566 on top is lifted out of the cemetery grounds. Elevated view of Pennsylvania Avenue, Old Post Office Building seen on right, and traffic on the street. Close up elevated view of 1930's automobiles stopped a stop light. Several views of 1935 year license plates or number plates of cars from various states including California, Georgia, New York, Wisconsin, and Ohio . A horse eats food from a bucket. A woman seated on a footpath drinks and enjoys lunch. A family seated around a table during a lunch break. People at the National Zoo. They look at animals and stand behind a cage. A young girl plays with leopard cubs. Picnickers seated in a garden, with cars on roadway behind, possibly Rock Creek Park area. A close up of a young girl eating. Children swinging on a swing set.
A United States Navy fleet review in the early 1930s. Men and the crew at deck of USS Pennsylvania. Guests of Admiral Leigh (Commander in Chief) on bridge, watch formation. Views of USS Raleigh, USS Detroit and ships in formation in sea. USS Augusta and some sailboats in fleet. Other ships of fleet in formation, small launch underway. Battleships in single column, led by USS California.
Lewis Thaddeus Nordyke, newspaperman and author, who lived through the Dust Bowl in Dalhart, Texas, recounts how some people "stayed and prayed" in hopes of rain, always looking forward to "next year." Views of drought stricken land and sand covered houses. Scenes of farmers packing up their families and abandoning their homes. (Between 1935 and 1939, 350 thousand people left their homes in the dust bowl. Many went to California.)
Exterior view of Pan American Union Building in Washington DC, with a 1930s Packard four door sedan-limousine parked in front. A man entering the building. Jefferson Caffery, U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, seated in an office and reviewing paperwork. Narrator describes the creation of the Good Neighbor Fleet (where Moore-McCormack Lines, also called Mooremack, was contracted to run three ocean liners of the U.S. Maritime Commission between the USA and South America, called the Good Neighbor Fleet.) Close up picture of brochure advertising the new fleet, and picturing the three ships (The California, Virginia and Pennsylvania from the former Panama Pacific Line, with new names Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina.) Next scene shows 3 men meeting (this is possibly Moore-McCormack Lines founder Albert V. Moore, on right, seated at a table and in discussion, possibly with U.S. Maritime officials. Man on left is possibly Emmet McCormack.) Passengers aboard liner SS Brazil as it departs port. Crowd on docks wave at the ship leaving New York harbor. View from on board SS Brazil in New York Harbor as a nearby tug boat sprays water. Skyline and skyscrapers of New York City's Manhattan Island seen in background. Map of South America showing route of a Good Neighbor ship. Good Neighbor Fleet ships at a harbor in South America. U.S. State Department diplomats in South America beside one of the ships as fleet service is inaugurated. Exterior view of Pan American Union building and its sign in Washington DC (later called the building of the Organization of American States). President Ortiz of Argentina, President Alfredo Baldomir of Uruguay, and President Vargas of Brazil are shown in discussion with various officials.
Hard times in the Great Depression led to formation of The Bonus Army. American veterans of World War 1 march on streets of Washington DC, carrying a large poster demanding immediate cash redemption their "bonus" service certificates awarded by Congress in 1924 (but not lawfully payable until 1945). Army Chief of Staff, General Douglas MacArthur, ordered by President Hoover, to clear the Bonus Army encampments, is seen standing in a street surrounded by several U.S. Army troops. People watch from sidewalks as a contingent of U.S. Army cavalry rides down the street. U.S. Army M-1917 tanks roll down Pennsylvania Avenue in July 1932. Bonus marchers and others watch from Lafayette Park in background. Scene shifts to the 1932 Democratic Party Convention in Chicago Stadium, Chicago, where delegates cheer after nominating Franklin D. Roosevelt as their Presidential candidate. Roosevelt seen waving from the podium. Migrant farm workers seen at temporary, dilapidated dwellings in close quarters, and sitting at a campfire, some with sad and desperate faces. Migrant farm workers' cars on the road, piled high with family belongings during westward migration. Migrants riding atop an open railroad freight car. Two men share a copy of the "Epic News" newspaper (published by supporters of Upton Sinclair and the End Poverty Movement in Los Angeles and central California). Narrator describes programs of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Construction workers ignite demolition charges during construction of Boulder Dam (aka Hoover Dam and officially so-named in 1947). Glimpse of President Roosevelt at the site in an open car, for its dedication on September 30, 1935. Construction workers engaged in building the dam. Another shot of President Roosevelt in his open car. Towers being erected to carry electric power from the dam's hydroelectric generators. President Franklin D. Roosevelt smiling broadly at the formal dedication ceremony, September 30, 1935. Controlled discharges of water through the dam. Views of the Boulder Dam hydroelectric generating station. Oil well rigs or oil derricks at work during construction at night. People at work in fabric mills or textile mills, and in a print shop