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Experiencing the Great Depression in Rural America

This assignment provides you with the opportunity to experience first-hand accounts of the affect that the Great Depression had on rural America. While those living in urban centers struggled with the drastic changes that occurred after Black Tuesday, some would argue that the affect on farming communities was more devastating. Keep in mind that the seeds of the Depression were sewn on Wall Street and in falling agricultural prices. The latter led many farmers to default (stop paying) loans which in turn resulted in the closure of rural banks.

Your resource for this assignment is a series of video interviews collected, and posted, by the Wessels Living History Farm in York, Nebraska*. The text that accompanies the videos is an equally valuable resource in learning more about the effects of the Depression. You will utilize both to complete this assignment.

The videos are in the Quicktime format and require a fast Internet connection. If you are unable to view these videos at home please visit me during tutorial in room 405. Make the most of your classtime to view the selected videos and write up your notes at home.

Videos - pages open in a new window.:
1. Interview with Florence Thompson, subject of Dorothea Lange's photo "Migrant Mother"- from ganzelgroup.com.
2. Interviews with Leroy Hankel and Carla Due. Both are linked from this page.
3. Worldwide Depression -text with brief video clip.
4. A great hitchhiking story as well an example of how Depression survivors find humor in some of their memories.
5. You couldn't even buy a job - click on the image of the car.
6. Legacy of the Depression - three videos.

There are numerous videos on this site that relate to the Great Depression. The full list is available here.

1. How did these individuals and their families react to the news of the stock market crash of 1929?
2. How did families cope with the hard times brought about by the Great Depression. Provide specific examples.
3. Why did some families choose to leave their community or farm? What was the most popular destination and why?
4. What was it like to be on the road during the Depression? How do you think you would have handled such an experience?
5. How do survivors of the Depression say they were changed by their experiences during that decade? What do you think about how they describe these changes?
6. Which clip surprised you, made you think or taught you something new? Why? Be sure to identify the video.

Copy and paste these questions into Microsoft Word and type your responses.

*I can't help but mention what an amazing resource this web site is. The folks who created clearly put a great deal of care into collecting the content and presenting it in a clear and organized design. Whether you are in my web design class now or plan on taking it later on, pay attention. This is an outstanding web site.