New Era

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NEW ERA. A widely used label for the period of American history preceding the Great Depression and the New Deal, New Era usually refers to 1921–1929 but sometimes is used to indicate 1919–1933. It was initially used during the period, particularly by those viewing the innovations in industrial technology, managerial practice, and associational formation as components of a new capitalism capable of keeping itself in balance and realizing the nation's democratic ideals. Among those to use it in this fashion were the investment banker Elisha Friedman in America and the New Era (1920), the Harvard economist Thomas Nixon Carver in The Present Economic Revolution in the United States (1925), Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover in numerous public statements, and the economists responsible for Recent Economic Changes in the United States (1929). Subsequently, as the Great Depression produced negative interpretations of the period, the term took on connotations of foolishness and illusion and was replaced by such labels as the Republican Era, the Age of Normalcy, and the Roaring Twenties. But as scholars in the 1950s and 1960s rediscovered the period's innovations and were impressed with the extent to which they did represent a new and distinctive stage in social modernization, governmental development, and the coming of a managerial capitalism, the term came back into academic use.


Alchon, Guy. The Invisible Hand of Planning: Capitalism, Social Science, and the State in the 1920s. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985.

Barber, William J. From New Era to New Deal: Herbert Hoover, the Economists, and American Economic Policy, 1921–1933. Cambridge, U.K.; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

Hawley, Ellis W., ed. Herbert Hoover as Secretary of Commerce: Studies in New Era Thought and Practice. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1981.


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New Era