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[Detail] Wayne Perry playing fiddle, Crowley, Louisiana.

The Depression Years, 1929-1945

The 380 photographs from the thirties comprise a visual record of life in the South in the Depression era. Images found under the subject index headings of farmers and farming evince the primitive agricultural techniques many still used. Images of the Mountain Music Festival in North Carolina afford a view of music, entertainment, and leisure in the 1930s, while others give a general sense of the times.


 "Sally Goodin"

There are few textual references to the Great Depression in the collection. But because they come from first-hand accounts, they breathe life into topics that students read about in textbooks, such as tenant farming and sharecropping, the New Deal, and the crash of 1929. To locate such references, do a full-text search on bank, relief, and Roosevelt. In addition, the fieldnotes, like the collection's photographs, provide a portrait of the South during this era. Students can browse the Fieldnotes and look for clues about the time period in which they were written.

"Yon comes Bre'r Zeke; he ain' much on preachin', but he's 'bout de out-prayin'est Parson dat ever went to town on Satday . . . back in 1932, Bre'r Zeke walked out to de aidge o' de pulpit 'n' rolled his eyes up to de sky, 'n' stretched his arms straight out in frontta him, 'n' start prayin': . . . Now, Oh-o Marster, Thou seeth me in dese days o' 'versity; Oh-o Marster, Thou seeth me gwine upn' down de cotton fiel', tryin', Oh-o Marster, tryin' by de sweater my brow ter feed six chilluns wid some fo' cent cotton. Thou seeth me on a Sunday mornin', gwine down de Big Road, wid my elbows out, an' de botooms o' my foots reachin' de groun' thu de soles o' my shoes; Thou hath heared de Boss-man say dat de cotton us done riz won' 'pensate him fer de meat us done et. Now, Oh-o Marster, even as Thou knoweth all things dat be's possible, Thou knoweth also dat feedin' six chilluns wid some fo' cent cotton ain't one uv 'em...' Folks, you know dat prayer hit got answered, yessir, hit sho' be's answered, fer 'twarnt long 'fo' de Good Lord tuck an' drapped dis here Mister Roosevelt right down in Bre'r Zeke's arms, an' said: "Gi' dat nigger ten cents fer his cotton!"

Page 15 of the Fieldnotes