Students can be prepared for critically viewing photographs. Analyze with students the first photo from the set of photos in Photographs from the Great Depression, selecting questions to prompt discussion, closer observation and deeper analysis.
- Students examine Photographs from the Great Depression, selected from Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives.
- Working with a partner, students select two photographs record their thoughts and observations using the Primary Source Analysis tool and questions selected from the Teacher's Guides and describe the life circumstances portrayed in the photos to review the social conditions occurring during the Great Depression.
- Students skim several Life Histories selected from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940.
- Working with a partner, students select one and analyze it using the Primary Source Analysis tool and questions selected from the Teacher's Guides as a way to begin to understand the needs of real people which New Deal programs were designed to meet.
NOTE: Before launching students into the life histories, be aware that:
- Oral histories reflect the experience and attitudes of the narrator and as such, may show biases and prejudices which might seem inappropriate to the reader.
- The interviewer may choose to reflect the speech patterns and pronunciations of the narrator by using misspellings and non-standard English.
- The text of the interviews may have brackets indicating questions and uncertainties of the transcriber.
- Each page of text has a "page image" link at the top to an image of the original manuscript page. The page image is in .tif format and requires viewing software (plug-in) to see it in the Web browser. The American Memory Viewer Information page has explanations and links to viewing software.
Students research New Deal programs to assess which programs or agencies might have improved the life of the person whose interview was read in Activity Two.
Students use the New Deal Essay Guide to help them write an explanation of the New Deal programs they selected and create a follow-up interview with the person whose life history they read. This writing will make clear how the New Deal programs affected the life of the person interviewed.