Every year since 1994, watching Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life has become a Christmas Eve tradition for millions of Americans. This website is dedicated to using that historical document and cultural milestone to understand how Americans and their institutions met the challenges posed by the Great Depression (1929-1940) and the Great Recession (2008-210).  Beyond helping us to see in the unique importance of each of these two chapters in U.S. history with greater sharpness and clarity  (or in “historical high resolution”), It’s a Wonderful Life is most valuable to illuminating U.S. history because it teaches the continuing importance of the ideal of “Democratic Capitalism”.