The New Deal: North Carolina's Reconstruction?
This lesson plan is a guide for teachers that will
result in imaginary WPA interviews similar to those found in the American
Life Histories, 1936-1940 of the American
Memory Collection of the Library of
Congress website that demonstrate students' interpretation of the question
"Was the New Deal North Carolina's 'Reconstruction'?"
GT Magnet Middle School
|A 1930's view of the Atlantic Beach boardwalk, bath houses, and old
casino, where dances, concerts-and sometimes professional boxing matches-were
held. from "The Fighter Who Wouldn't," The State, October, 1986,
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, 1936-1940 from the American
Memory Collection, 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
The student project will demonstrate mastery of a variety of objectives
that include creative writing, historical appreciation and criticism, recognition
of bias, and incorporation of text and illustration reflecting primary
In this project students will:
Demonstrate an understanding of the degree to which the Depression/New
Deal amended the economic destruction of the Civil War.
Utilize the American
Life Histories, 1936-1940 as both a primary resource as well as 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Identify point of view/bias in historical documents, both text and pictorial.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.
Three weeks or 12 to 15 class periods.
This estimate reflects the approximate time frame to implement and complete
this assignment. All background knowledge on the Reconstruction era should
have been completed prior to the introduction of this project.
Recommended Grade Level
Eighth grade students.
This interdisciplinary project encompasses the subject areas of social
studies, language arts, visual art, music, and technology. It specifically
addresses objectives from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study for
eighth grade social
arts, and information
Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
America from the Great
Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA-OWI, 1935-1945
Narratives: An Online Anthology
Documenting the American
New Deal Network
20th Century History
By the Decades: 1930-1939
North Carolina Division of Archives
Southern Historical Collection, University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Manuscripts Division
North Carolina and the New Deal by AnthonyBadger.
North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and
History, Raleigh, N.C., 1981.
Hard Times by John Bell. North Carolina Department of
Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, Raleigh, N.C., 1982.
Step 1: Introducing the Project
1-2 class periods
Step 2: Researching the New Deal
Time will vary
Classroom teacher will introduce the question "Was the Depression North
Carolina's 'Reconstruction'?" for initial reaction from students and to
review the Civil War/Reconstruction Era.
Students will receive the assignment with specific objectives and guidelines
enumerated by the rubric.
The instructor will explain the rubric in detail, stressing the importance
of research, drawing conclusions, and answering the question.
Opportunities will be provided for individual and group questioning.
Step 3: Introducing American Life Histories, 1939-40
Students will research the impact of the Depression and New Deal programs
on the social, economic and/or political life of the individual in preparation
for the writing assignment.
Students may interview individuals who were living during the Great Depression.
Students should search for a specific illustration for the assignment.
Step 4: Exploring American Life Histories, 1936-40
The media specialist will introduce and demonstrate use of the American
Memory Collection, specifically the American Life Histories: Manuscript
from the Federal Writers' Project.
The media specialist will use the American Life Histories Special Presentation
from the Thirties to introduce collection and the work of
the Federal Writers' Project.
To assist students in conducting searches, the media center will demonstrate
use of the Search
Tips page of the American Memory Collection and the Search
Guides located through the Learning
The media specialist will call attention to other online sources as well
as print sources from the school library collection.
Step 5: Creating the "Interview"
Students will explore the American Memory 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.
Language arts teacher will guide student writers in format, style, and
tone of the project.
The following WPA
Life Histories from North Carolina provide a contrast in writing styles
that will be useful to students as they begin their original interviews:
Students will link reports to images and print or text citations.
A bibliography will accompany the report.
Evaluation by rubric
for "interview" answering the question "Was the New Deal North Carolina’s
For questions or comments contact Deborah
Pendleton or Jackie Brooks.