During the American Depression of the 1930s, the Federal government, under the Works Projects Administration, helped employ many people, especially those with specific skills. One of those type were writers, those individuals who could interview a person in depth and write their life story.
This government funded program not only gave jobs to those who needed employment, but has preserved for future generations stories that could have been lost forever it this had not been completed. Nearly 3,000 stories come from 24 states across the country.
Each person’s story might include their family education, income, occupation, political views, religion, medical condition and any other miscellaneous observations by the interviewer. Now in the 21st century the Library of Congress has made these stories available in digital format to be viewed in entirely online.
The American Life Histories project site has an enormous variety of topics by Americans. Some stories, people and events are unique just to certain locations, while others are universal life situations.
The states and communities represented with the most stories are the following.
Texas has 445 stories
New York City has 417 stories
Nebraska has 305 stories
Connecticut has 261 stories
New Mexico has 218 stories
The other states with less numbers include; Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
The stories are most unusual and interesting. They include the ‘A Clockmaker of Thomaston‘, the People of Bridgeport, Conn., a Tenant Farmer of North Carolina, a Quarry Man of Vermont, Reminiscences from Indiana of Morgan’s Raid during the Civil War, an African-American physician in Miami, FL and a woman remembering her past Christmases in South Carolina.
In each state information from the people themselves is gathered about local history and events and the people themselves. Each story can be viewed as a transcript text or from the original handwritten or typed story.
A search can be done on a surname, place or event on the site. Not every name or event in a region is covered in these stories, but what is preserved is a treasure unto itself.