WPA FEDERAL WRITERS' PROJECT ASSIGNMENT
Honors American History - March 1999
- Learning about different ways to record and write
- Gaining an appreciation for the diversity of
American culture and experiences.
- Learning about the purposes for and
accomplishments of the Federal Writers' Project.
The Library of Congress' online American Memory
Collection of American Life Histories: Manuscripts from
Writers' Project: 1936 - 40
This Collection includes:
- information on the WPA and its Federal Writers'
- 2900 documents from 24 different states.
- transcriptions and page images of original
- "life histories "written by WPA
employed writers which offer information on
American religions, occupations, folktales, and
diversity between 1936-40.
Part One: Learning about the Writers' Project and how
it can be used (15 points)
Directions: Use the "Special Presentation: Voices
from the 1930's: An
Introduction to the WPA Life Histories Collection"
to answer the following questions.
1. How many people did the WPA put to work?
2. How many people worked for the Writers' Project
and how much did they make per week?
3. Identify two notable writers who were involved.
4. What did writers write during the early years
of the project?
5. When did the Writers Project come to a halt and
6. What did B.A. Botkin see as the purpose of
assembling life histories?
7. Identify two works of fiction based on Life
8. How did interviewers record their data?
9. What is the connection between Invisible Man
and the Life Histories?
10. What instruction did Botkin give to writers
about the process of conducting interviews?
11. What helped bond interviewers to their
"Interview Excerpts" Section
Directions: Choose two of the listed topics (All
in a Days Work: Industrial Lore, Rank and File, Hard
Times in the City: Testifying, Making Do: Women and
Work) the excerpts focus on to investigate. Each has
three separate excerpts from longer Life Histories
related to the topic which you should read. After
doing so, answer the following question. Warning: If
you click on "Listen to the Response" you
will likely crash and need to restart your computer.
What significant information did I learn about
each of the topics? (Identify at least two things for
Part Two: Using the Collection to learn about oral
and American history (15 points)
1. Best Capturing of Subject's Speech
Patterns / Dialect
2. Life History Mentioning a Significant National
3. Most Interesting Person Interviewed for a Life
4. Best Written Life History (style, language, etc)
5. Most Unusual Job / Work Description
6. Most Interesting Life History Involving a Minority
(Group or Person)
Due Dates: Your research findings
should be turned in no later than Wednesday, March 10.