Federal Writers’ Project

“New York City, February 1935. On a cold blustery afternoon, people bundled in coats and scarves are marching in front of the Port City Authority holding up signs. One of them reads “CHILDREN NEED BOOKS. WRITERS NEED A BREAK. WE DEMAND PROJECTS.” The writers shouting into the cold are part of the Writers’ Union protest for writers’ inclusion in the biggest public works program in American history. At the time of the protest, visual artists were already receiving federal funds to paint post office murals and photograph daily life. The protesting writers were out of work and wanted New Deal jobs too.

Soon, though, these men and women would have the chance to join the largest literary project in American history: the Federal Writers’ Project. For eight years, the FWP would support the work of luminaries (Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and John Cheever, to name a few) as well as thousands of other writers.  The FWP created a huge archive of individual stories and fading local cultures that defined Americana in the early twentieth century.” Read full story here.

Great Depression in USA

“Coastal Review is featuring the work of North Carolina historian David Cecelski, who writes about the history, culture and politics of the North Carolina coast. Cecelski shares on his website essays and lectures he has written about the state’s coast as well as brings readers along on his search for the lost stories of our coastal past in the museums, libraries and archives he visits in the U.S. and across the globe.” Read more here.

Studs Terkel and Hard Times

“Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression turned 50 this year. A bestseller in 1970, the book was one of nearly two dozen written by the cheerfully empathetic historian and journalist Studs Terkel.” There are many similarities to current times. Read article and listen to Studs interviewing people about the Great Depression here.

Americans in Great Depression

A sudden crisis turns the world upside down. Millions are thrown out of work. People despair and dread the future.That was the grim scenario many Americans faced almost a century ago after the 1929 stock market crash triggered the Great Depression. And many people are experiencing it today as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the US and the rest of the world.Commentators have drawn parallels between our current time and the 1930s, saying the pandemic could trigger the same type of economic and political upheaval that marked the Depression. But there’s another part of that era that can illuminate the present: Lessons from those who somehow managed to emerge from the Depression with their optimism — and in some cases, their finances — intact. For full story click here.