431 Days: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Creation of the SEC

431 Days: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Creation of the SEC (1934-35)

One of our online histories, “435 Days” links text to oral histories, documents, historical photos, and film footage to chronicle the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under charismatic leader Joseph P. Kennedy. Services included:

  • Primary research in federal and institutional archives
  • Secondary research in historical and legal literature
  • Extensive photographic research


In 2005 the SEC Historical Society decided to commission the production of “galleries” to explore thematic topics in the history of securities regulation. The SEC Historical Society sought an expert able to bring together its archival holdings and oral history collections to build the galleries.


Dr. Durr met with directors of the SEC Historical Society to help conceptualize the first gallery, to be co-curated with historian Adrian Kinnane. Next came research at the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. The resulting gallery is divided into tight chronological and thematic segments. It roots the creation of the SEC in the financial excesses of the years preceding the crash. It then tells the story of the 431 days in which Joseph P. Kennedy implemented the regulation by disclosure regime that remains central to the SEC.

The gallery chronicles the growth and development of U.S. securities markets and describes the legislative and administrative underpinnings of the Commission. Linked document, photos, videos, and oral history interviews provide additional context and detail for visitors. This effort set precedent for online histories to follow. Dr. Durr curated or co-curated five of them.

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