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Media: 220 105 x 148mm microfiche

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The lives of most people are rarely considered worthy of recording for historical purposes. Only recently have sociologists, historians, and other scholars recognized the qualitative value of such information for obtaining well-rounded historical perspectives on an era.

Federal Writers' Project preserves on microfiche over 12,000 manuscript pages documenting the personal histories of Southerners, which were collected through this New Deal program begun during the Depression. In these life histories, ordinary Southerners speak for themselves, and what they have to say provides a unique view of the world they experienced and helped create.

These people describe how major events affected them--the Civil War, Emancipation, World War I, and the Depression. They speak of growing up, getting married, having children, and getting old. They talk about family life, sex roles, and religious beliefs. And students of American history, African American studies, womens' studies, the family, sociology, and the South will find the stories of these unknown Southern people of great value for research topics such as:


  • interrelating specific historical events to their effects at the grass-roots level
  • a study of government social programs and the perceived accrued benefits to the programs' recipients
  • tracing social changes in the family and its structure, in the status of blacks during Reconstruction, and in the roles of women in Southern society

This unique record of oral histories was filmed from the holdings of the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Institutions supporting or beginning a popular oral history program will also benefit from this model, which documents the lives of the normally voiceless, faceless everyday American.

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