Read about people who lived during the Great Depression by choosing from the life histories below. These life histories are from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writer's Project, 1936-1940 in the American Memory collections, the Library of Congress. After you have read several life histories carefully, answer the questions on Reading Oral Histories.
- Anna Alden
- Minnie Caranfa
- Experiences of a Farm Owner
- Miss Henrietta C. Dozier
- Four Families
- Mountain Town
- The Howes
- Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Goethe
- I Managed to Carry On
- Mrs. Janie Bradberry Harris
- Italian Munitions Worker
- Myron Buxton
- Janie Solomon
- Not Much of a Day for Walking
- Jack Dillin
- Laura Bickford
- Unable to Stage a Comeback
- Lolly Bleu-Florida Squatter
- Unwelcome Caller
- Mary Watkins and her Family
- WPA Road
For more life histories, search the American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writer's Project, 1936-1940
Read the questions below and keep them in mind as you read and study your selected Life History. Then, answer the questions below based on your reading.
- What is the general tone or attitude of the person being interviewed?
- What do you infer about the person/family from their tone or vocabulary as recorded in the interview?
- What are the circumstances of this person's life?
- What seems to have led to these circumstances?
- What can you infer about the general emotional state of this person from what he/she says?
- Is there anything interesting or surprising about the situation represented by this interview?
- What problems or frustrations is the interviewee dealing with?
- What adaptations can you assume or infer the person is making to his/her situation?
- Explain any assistance or programs you can identify that are presently helping this person.
- If you had some power or authority and could make something good happen, something realistic, what would you propose as a way to help the interviewee improve his/her circumstances?