SCIM-C Table for analyzing sources in the Digital History Reader module:

The End of Optimism: The Great Depression in Europe

Type of Source / Type of Question

Newspaper report Chart / Table / Graph Photograph Cartoon Diplomatic Report


"The Developments in Germany," The Militant February 1, 1930 (link to evidence) Animated chart on unemployment (link to evidence) French Women Workers: Textile operatives marching through Roubaix (link to evidence) "The March of World Reaction," Revolutionary Age, October 10, 1931 (link to evidence) British Diplomatic Report, March 4, 1931 (link to evidence)


What type of historical document is the source?

What specific information, details, and/or perspectives does the source provide?

What is the subject, audience, and/or purpose of the source?

Who was the author and/or audience of the source?
A newspaper report on the economic situation in Germany, with description of number of unemployed, food shortages for those without income, and political crisis

A table showing the number of unemployed in Germany and Britain from 1925 to 1938. Chart is not a historical source, but the numbers can be interpreted as a primary source, since they are taken from the time at which they occurred.

A procession of men and women (more than thirty are visible, with many more behind them) marching, shouting or singing, and carrying a banner, while a line of armed police march along side them

A cartoon showing about ten men, some marked as "British Capital" or "Wall Street," marching with signs, with slogans such as "Wage Cuts and Union Bashing," "Economy and Starvation," and "Imperialist War."


A report from the British ambassador in Germany to the British Foreign Secretary, describing political and economic conditions in the winter of 1931


When and where was the source produced?

Why was the source produced?

What was happening within the immediate and broader context at the time this source was produced?

What summarizing information can place the sources in time, space, and place?
Source was written in early 1930, less than four months after the Wall Street Crash, reflecting the extent of the economic crisis as unemployed grew and the crisis of the political system increased rapidly Numbers illustrate the extent of unemployment and changes over time for two countries. Comparisons between Germany and Britain show similarities and differences. Total number and percent unemployed can be compared for two countries.

Protests by working class French men and women, seeking a political solution to the economic crisis

Police presence shows the potential for armed conflict between protestors and forces of order

Response to worsening conditions of Depression (2 years after Wall Street Crash, in October 1929)

The name of British Prime Minister Baldwin identifies the European focus of the cartoon


Economic conditions include rising unemployment, failing businesses, and the likelihood of strikes. Political responses include growing nationalism, with reference to the Nazi party in particular


What is suggested by the source?

What interpretations may be drawn from the source?

What perspectives are indicated in the source?

What inferences may be drawn from absences or omissions in the source?
Source is intended to show extent of crisis, with details about changes in diet on a personal level, broad figures about the number of unemployed, and direct charges against the political leadership for allowing this situation to develop to such a critical level Unemployment increased significantly from 1929 to 1933, the peak years of the Depression. In Britain, unemployment had been lower in the 1920s and while decreasing after 1932, remained higher in the 1930s than in the 1920s. In Germany, unemployment peaked in 1932 and then fell quickly in the years that followed.

Protests seems organized, with banner, some sense of lines of march, and the gap between protestors and police

The photograph mostly shows women, of varying ages, and some carrying bags and linking arms. One male protestor walks between the women and the police, perhaps as a means of protection

An effort to connect politics (reaction and imperialist war) to the effects of the Depression (economy and starvation)

The large size of the men, their fancy clothes, and sense of complacency contrast with the dire situation described in the slogans

While drawing attention to the severity of the crisis, which is similar in Germany as elsewhere in the world, there is also an expectation that conditions will improve, rather than further deteriorate, which suggests the desire of the British diplomat to avoid further worsening of conditions in Germany and Europe more generally.



What additional evidence beyond the source is necessary?

What ideas, images, or terms need further defining from the source?

How useful or significant is the source for its intended purpose in answering the historical question?

What questions from the previous stages need revisiting in order to analyze the source successfully?

More information is needed to determine the accuracy of these charges

The article is written from a left perspective, as the blame for the situation is placed on conservative and moderate parties in the governing coalition, while the communist party is described as being in a "serious but promising" situation

Understanding the political bias of the author and intended audience is thus essential to analysis of this source.
Chart does not indicate total number of workers, breakdown by gender, age, type of work, location, or skill level, or explain why numbers and percentages change at certain times. The animation in the chart illustrates changes over time, in terms of both the unique patterns in Britain and Germany and the comparisons between the two responses to the depression.

The political views of the protestors and the police are clear, but there is no way to evaluate how widely these views were shared among the French people

The cartoon captures a moment in time, and does not indicate either what conditions prompted the protests, what incidents may have occurred earlier or later in this march, and whether the protestors or the police see these demonstrations as making an change in the political system

This cartoon comes from a left wing perspective, because of the link between the current government, the economic problems, the warning of imperialist war, and the slogan of reaction, which was a left-wing slogan that blamed the depression on the capitalist system

This cartoon assumes, rather than connecting causally, these economic and political forces.

As an outside observer, the British ambassador is reporting on what he sees, hears, and reads in Germany, but also on what his superiors wanted to know, which affects both the selection and presentation of information. The ambassador was clearly concerned about extreme nationalist forces taking advantage of the economic crisis to come to power, which shapes the interpretation of these conditions.



What similarities and differences between the sources exist?

What factors could account for the similarities and differences?

What conclusions can be drawn from the accumulated interpretations?

What additional information or sources are necessary to answer more fully the guiding historical question?
Other reports on living conditions, unemployment, the political crisis, and the response of the communist party are needed to understand the extent to which this article accurately reflected experiences and attitudes in Germany in early 1930 More information is needed on the nature of unemployment, the distribution of this experience across these two countries, and the factors that made unemployment change over time. Additional evidence is needed to understand how the conditions of women workers shaped their political views and changes in government policy How does this depiction of the political and economic crisis of the Depression compare to other accounts of attitudes and beliefs? More information is needed about German-British relations, and particularly the ways that fears of extreme nationalism shaped assessments of the immediate conditions and long-term implications of the economic crisis.