The Great Depression in North Carolina: Experiences of the People
This lesson plan will result in imaginary Works Progress Administration (WPA) interviews similar to those found in American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 of the Library of Congress that demonstrate students' interpretation of the question, "Was the New Deal North Carolina's 'Reconstruction'?" All background knowledge on the Reconstruction era should have been completed prior to the introduction of this project.
A written WPA report on an imaginary North Carolina resident who lived during the Reconstruction and Depression eras is the product of this assignment. Students must complete research of the American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940, select an occupation for future research, and explore additional print and electronic sources. The "interview" must be historically accurate, support a thesis that answers the question, and include an appropriate sensory illustration.
Students will be able to:
Demonstrate an understanding of the degree to which the Depression/New Deal amended the economic destruction of the Civil War.
Use the American Life Histories, 1936-1940 as both a primary resource and a model for student-written interview documents.
Identify point of view/bias in historical documents, both text and pictorial.
Provide historical support for a thesis through the use of creative writing.
Work with the media specialist to identify other online sources as well as print sources from the school library collection.
Step 4: Exploring American Life Histories, 1936-40. 1-5 periods
Students will explore the collection, American Life Histories. They should read a variety of interviews, observing point of view/bias and format of questioning.
The following questions will serve to guide students as they research the American Life Histories, 1936-1940: "How did the Depression affect different social, economic, geographical, and political dimensions of North Carolina?" and "If you were going to interview someone from North Carolina during the Depression, what kind of person would you look for?"
The student should select a specific occupation as the basis of further research and for the "interviewee" in the imaginary Life History report. Suggested occupations include artist, banker, bootlegger, farmer, lawyer, merchant, mill worker, preacher, sharecropper, and sheriff. The occupation request form should include the following: occupation; sex, race, state geographic location, designated name.
Step 5: Creating the "Interview". 1-2 periods
Guide student writers in format, style, and tone of the project.