This research focuses on the interaction between a Congressman and his constituents and how this interaction reflects the larger conversation between the American government and its people. By examining the interrelationship between a political representative and New York’s 16th District between 1931 and 1951, I clarify the role and efforts policy makers made in response to urban societies’ concerns. The two decades studied in this dissertation consists of the post-Prohibition phase, Great Depression, and New Deal programming. The collection I analyze is the “John J. O’Connor Collection” from the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections at Chapman University, which consists of five scrapbooks containing political memoranda, newspaper clippings, and constituent correspondence. I also analyze material related to John O’Connor from the Library of Congress. These sources primarily consist of manuscripts, letters, political cartoons, photographs, magazines, and newspaper clippings. This research evaluates the concerns of this urban community by focusing on constituent correspondence with O’Connor, newspapers demonstrating public concerns, and letters exemplifying O’Connor’s efforts, or lack thereof, in addressing these concerns. This research therefore aims to discover the responsiveness of political representatives in addressing the necessities and concerns of an urban community in New York. While prior scholars have analyzed rural areas during the Great Depression (i.e. American Southwest), the scholarship has not yet evaluated the issues relating to urban communities. In turn, this research provides insight into the implementation of policy, prominent issues of concern, and underlying social and economic pressures that plagued urban communities.
Avena, Kristine, "The Relationship between the American Government and Society: Congressman John O’Connor and New York’s 16th District during the Great Depression" (2014). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 43.