American Memory Fellows Program - The Library of Congress

The New Deal: North Carolina's Reconstruction?

Deborah Pendleton
Martin Middle School
Raleigh, NC

Jackie Brooks
Ligon GT Magnet Middle School
Raleigh, NC

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'?"
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, page 21.

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 sensory illustration.

The Student Project


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 source research.

In this project students will:

Time Required

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.

Curriculum Fit

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 studies, language arts, and information skills.

Resources Used


Step 1:  Introducing the Project                                            1-2 class periods

Step 2:  Researching the New Deal                                    Time will vary Step 3:  Introducing American Life Histories, 1939-40        1-2 periods Step 4:  Exploring American Life Histories, 1936-40            1-5 periods Step 5: Creating the "Interview"                                        1-2 periods Evaluation

Evaluation by rubric for "interview" answering the question "Was the New Deal North Carolina’s ‘Reconstruction’"?

For questions or comments contact Deborah Pendleton or Jackie Brooks.