History assignment

FSA (Farm Security Administration) client with mules, near Morganza, Louisiana

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, DC 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

New Deal Programs – Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?


As you’ve read in Chapter 21 in your text, the New Deal programs and agencies, created under the leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had a powerful impact on the relationship of government to the people of the United States.

You’ve encountered an ‘alphabet soup’ of programs such as AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Administration), NRA (National Recovery Administration), CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), PWA (Public Works Administration), CWA (Civil Works Administration), and TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) but this assignment give you a chance to explore the impact of the New Deal.

Through this assignment, you’ll examine primary sources, both photographs and life histories, to develop a sense of the profound impact the Great Depression had on real people’s lives.


  • This assignment has 2 parts. Part 1 is Photo Analysis and Part 2 is Oral History Analysis.
  • Download the Lesson 4 New Deal Parts 1 and 2 Photograph and Oral History Analysis Answer Sheet 
  • Respond to all of the questions on the Answer Sheet. Be sure to save your document and upload the file when you are ready to submit your assignment for grading.
    • Do not submit your answers in the Comment section of the assignment area.

PART 1: Photo Analysis

Part One Photo Analysis gives you a chance to critically view historical photographs from the Great Depression Era.

1. Examine Photographs from the Great Depression, selected from Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives.

2. Select 1 photograph from each of the 5 categories (Refugees, Houses, Hooverville, Men’s dormitory, WPA)

3. Record your thoughts and observations using the Part 1 section of your Answer Sheet and respond to the questions describing the life circumstances portrayed in the photos to review the social conditions occurring during the Great Depression.

Click on the captions below to see the photographs and then click the ‘+ View Larger’ link below each picture.


  • Depression refugee family from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Dorothea Lange
  • Part of an impoverished family of nine on a New Mexico highway, Dorothea Lange
  • Son of depression refugee from Oklahoma now in California, Dorothea Lange


  • The only home of a depression-routed family of nine from Iowa, Dorothea Lange
  • Shanty built of refuse near the Sunnyside slack pile, Herrin, Illinois, Arthur Rothstein
  • Tenement kitchen, Hamilton Co., Ohio, (2 kids), Carl Maydans
  • Tenement kitchen, Hamilton Co. Ohio, (family), Carl Maydans


  • Dweller in Circleville’s “Hooverville,” central Ohio, (man and house), Ben Shahn
  • Dwellers in Circleville’s “Hooverville,” central Ohio, Ben Shahn
  • Dwellers in Circleville’s “Hooverville,” central Ohio, (Man in doorway), Ben Shahn
  • William A. Swift, once a farmer, now a resident of Circleville’s “Hooverville”, Ben Shahn
  • Young boy in Hooverville, Ben Shahn

Men’s dormitory

  • Corner of dormitory, Russell Lee
  • Corner of dormitory, homeless men’s bureau, Sioux City, Iowa, Russell Lee
  • Men’s dormitory at night at the homelessmen’s bureau, Sioux City, Iowa, Russell Lee

WPA (Works Progress Administration)

  • Children of ex-farmer who is now working on WPA, central Ohio, Ben Shahn
  • Ex-farmer and child, now on WPA, central Ohio, Ben Shahn
  • Ex-farmer and children, now on WPA, central Ohio, Ben Shahn
  • Wife of WPA worker, Charlestown, West Virginia, Marion Post Wolcott

PART 2: Oral History Analysis

Part 2 Oral History Analysis Analysis gives you an opportunity to read personal accounts from people that lived during the the Great Depression Era.

1. Select 1 Life History below selected from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940.

2. Analyze one (1) of the Life History that interests you using Part 2 section of your Answer Sheet and respond to the questions as a way to begin to understand the needs of real people which New Deal programs were designed to meet.

Things to consider before reading life histories. . .please be aware that:

  1. Oral histories reflect the experience and attitudes of the narrator and as such, may show biases and prejudices which might seem inappropriate to you, the reader.
  2. The interviewer may choose to reflect the speech patterns and pronunciations of the narrator by using misspellings and non-standard English.
  3. The text of the interviews may have brackets indicating questions and uncertainties of the transcriber.
  4. Each page of text has a “page image” link at the top to an image of the original manuscript page. The page image is in .tif format and requires viewing software (plug-in) to see it in the Web browser. The American Memory Viewer Information page has explanations and links to viewing software.

Life Histories

Read about people who lived during the Great Depression by choosing from the life histories below. These life histories are from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writer’s Project, 1936-1940 in the American Memory collections, the Library of Congress.

  • Anna Alden
  • Minnie Caranfa
  • Experiences of a Farm Owner
  • Miss Henrietta C. Dozier
  • Four Families
  • Mountain Town
  • The Howes
  • Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Goethe
  • I Managed to Carry On
  • Mrs. Janie Bradberry Harris
  • Italian Munitions Worker
  • Myron Buxton
  • Janie Solomon
  • Not Much of a Day for Walking
  • Jack Dillin
  • Reminiscence
  • Laura Bickford
  • Unable to Stage a Comeback
  • Lolly Bleu-Florida Squatter
  • Unwelcome Caller
  • Mary Watkins and her Family
  • WPA Road
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