Skip to Main Content

The New Deal Era: Documents Available from the Boston Public Library: National Recovery Administration

This is a guide to New Deal agency publications digitized by the BPL.


Established through the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, the National Recovery Administration sought to balance the interests of farmers, businesses, and labor.  The NRA developed codes of fair competition and created voluntary agreements within industries involving wages, prices, and working hours.  Eventually, the NIRA was challenged in the courts, and in 1935, the Supreme Court, in the case of Schechter Poultry Co. v United States, held that the law was unconstitutional.

The National Recovery Administration (nra) was a New Deal agency designed to organize the stabilization and revival of the nation's economy; it was established under the National Industrial Recovery Act, June 16, 1933. Under nra supervision, each sector of the economy was to develop an industrywide code, setting standards for production, prices, and wages. These codes would have the force of law and would be exempt from antitrust provisions.

The program received general support at first. Businesspeople saw it as a chance to formalize the trade association agreements that had flourished in the 1920s but were difficult to enforce under the economic pressures of the depression. Labor pinned its hopes on Section 7, which required that each code specify maximum hours, minimum wages, safe working conditions, and (under Section 7a) workers’ right to organize. The program director, Gen. Hugh Johnson, launched the nra with a dramatic publicity campaign, awarding a “Blue Eagle” to each participating company, and by September codes had been developed by most major industries. Criticism mounted, however, as it became clear that the largest firms were shaping the codes to suit their own priorities, with little input from labor, consumers, or the overextended nra staff. At the same time, business was growing hostile to the provisions protecting labor and to the codes’ administrative complexity.

from The Reader's Companion to American History, available in the Credo Reference database



The Evidence Studies were originally planned as a means of gathering evidence bearing upon various legal issues which arose under the National Recovery Act.  These studies have value quite aside from the use for which they were originally intended. (from the introduction)

  1. Automobile Manufacturing Industry

  2. Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Industry

  3. Bottled Soft Drink Industry

  4. Builders' Supplies Industry

  5. Chemical Manufacturing Industry

  6. Cigar Manufacturing Industry

  7. Construction Industry

  8. Cotton Garment Industry

  9. Dress Manufacturing Industry

  10. Electrical Contracting Industry

  11. Electrical Manufacturing Industry

  12. Fabricated Products Manufacturing and Metal Finishing and Metal Coating Industry

  13. Fishery Industry

  14. Furniture Manufacturing Industry

  15. General Contractors Industry

  16. Graphic Arts Industry

  17. Gray Iron Foundry Industry

  18. Hosiery Industry

  19. Infant's and Children's Wear Industry

  20. Iron and Steel Industry

  21. Leather

  22. Lumber and Timber Products Industry

  23. Mason Contractors Industry

  24. Men's Clothing Industry

  25. Motion Picture Industry

  26. Motor Bus Manufacturing Industry (dropped)

  27. Needlework Industry of Puerto Rico

  28. Painting and Paperhanging and Decorating

  29. Photo Engraving Industry

  30. Plumbing Contracting Industry

  31. Retail Food (BPL does not have)

  32. Retail Lumber Industry

  33. Retail Solid Fuel (dropped)

  34. Retail Trade Industry

  35. Rubber Manufacturing Industry

  36. Rubber Tire Manufacturing Industry

  37. Silk Textile Industry

  38. Structural Clay Products Industry

  39. Throwing Industry

  40. Trucking Industry

  41. Waste Materials Industry

  42. Wholesale and Retail Food Industry

  43. Wholesale Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

  44. Wool Textile Industry

  45. Automotive Parts and Equipment Industry

  46. Baking Industry

  47. Canning Industry

  48. Coat and Suit Industry

  49. Household Goods and Storage (dropped)

  50. Motor Vehicle Retailing Trade Industry

  51. Retail Tire and Battery Trade Industry (BPL does not have)

  52. Ship and Boat Building and Repairing Industry

  53. Wholesaling or Distributing Trade (BPL does not have)