Forgotten Life History Interviews

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Photo: caption follows

Federal Writers' Project--Personnel at work on American Guide. Photographer unknown. Photograph, undated. Courtesy of the National Archives. (69 N, box 4, negative 7238-C).

These accounts were meant to be published in a series of anthologies that would form a mosaic portrait of everyday life in America. There were projected volumes on granite carvers, western pioneers and tobacco workers, among others. But by the end of the Depression, the New Deal arts projects were under attack by congressional red-baiters. Following America's entry into World War II, the Writers' Project came to a halt. A vast store of unpublished material was housed in the Library of Congress and was overlooked until recently.

This collection of life histories does not include photographs of the individuals who told their stories. In order to illustrate the narratives in this interpretive program, we have reproduced portraits of other individuals taken during the same time period, identified as "surrogate images."

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