Potential Problems with Life Histories
While life histories are certainly useful resources when examining lifestyles of the Great Depression, the interviewers designated with the task of transcribing life histories were not extensively trained. Therefore, they could have easily transmitted bias or altered the stories in order to increase their entertainment value. Rapport, a writer for the FWP, theorized that interviewers may have identified themselves as "potential fiction writers" and exercised their craft instead of sticking to what was said during the interview (14). Although it is impossible to know how accurately the facts of Lasker's interview were communicated, his transcript is entirely in quotations, which suggests at least some degree of authenticity.
Disclaimer: The original life history document discussed in this article used aliases, but because the author could not locate any information on Earl M. Lasker and others mentioned in the text, real names are used.
Deal (interviewer): I'm a Good Nurse, Folder 355 in the Federal Writers' Project papers #3709, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Hall, Jacquelyn D., et al. "Cotton Mill People: Work, Community, and Protest in the Textile South, 1880-1940." The American Historical Review, vol. 91, no. 2, Apr. 1986, pp. 245-286. JSTOR, https://jstor.org/stable/1858134. Accessed 6 February 2017.
Hill, Michael. "Federal Writers' Project." Encyclopedia of North Carolina, edited by William S.Powell, University of North Carolina Press, 2006, https://ncpedia.org/federal-writers-project. Accessed 4 February 2017.
Hoffman, Beatrix R. Health Care for Some: Rights and Rationing in the United States Since 1930. E-book ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. EBSCOhost, https://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzQ3OTA4Ml9fQU41?sid=bc273e34-c779-4bf6-ab3a-f57008017e80@sessionmgr103&vid=0&format=EB&lpid=lp_1&rid=0. Accessed 4 February 2017.
"Medicine and Health in the 1930s: Overview." DISCovering U.S. History, Gale Cengage Learning, 2003, http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/suic/ReferenceDetailsPage/DocumentToolsPortletWindow?displayGroupName=Reference&action=2&catId=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ2104240125&source=Bookmark&u=clea26856&jsid=03daf8c763e8a9c67c8e7d3a4a970777. Accessed 9 February 2017.
Rapport, Leonard. "How Valid Are the Federal Writers' Project Life Stories: An Iconoclast Among the True Believers." The Oral History Review, vol. 7, 1979, pp. 6-17. JSTOR, https://jstor.org/stable/3675185. Accessed 6 February 2017.
Image #1. Delano, Jack. At the Mary-Lelia Cotton Mill in Greensboro, Georgia. 1941. Library of Congress,. Washington, D.C. Photogrammar. http://photogrammar.yale.edu/records/index.php?record=fsa1998009510/PP.
Image #2. Delano, Jack. At the Mary-Lelia Cotton Mill in Greensboro, Georgia. 1941. Library of Congress,. Washington, D.C. Photogrammar. http://photogrammar.yale.edu/records/index.php?record=fsa1998009513/PP.
Image #3. Mydans, Carl. Hospital and First Aid Station. Berwyn, Maryland. 1936. Library of Congress,. Washington, D.C. Photogrammar. http://photogrammar.yale.edu/records/index.php?record=fsa1997000897/PP.
Image #4. Mydans, Carl. Family in Their New Home. Penderlea Homesteads. 1936. Library of Congress,. Washington, D.C. Photogrammar. http://photogrammar.yale.edu/records/index.php?record=fsa1998020294/PP.
Image #5. Rothstein, Arthur. Operation, Herrin Hospital (Private), Herrin Illinois. 1939. Library of Congress,. Washington, D.C. Photogrammar. http://photogrammar.yale.edu/records/index.php?record=fsa1997010452/PP.
Image #6. "The Great Depression Photo Galleries: Soup Kitchens and Breadlines." History, A&E Television Networks, http://history.com/topics/great-depression/pictures/soup-kitchens-and-breadlines/police-handing-food-out.
Image #7. Folder 355: "I'm a Good Nurse." Wilson Library, UNC Chapel Hill. Personal Photo by Author 2017.