The most interesting thread I found woven throughout the life histories is the prevalent theme of agriculture. In modern times, as well as back in the 1930s, stories are generally set in urban areas, and authors and works of literature (both great and small) have come from modernized, populated areas that are filled with communication conduits and networks of writings and writers.
So many of these life histories, however, are both written about and by rural people and rural places. That’s what was so unique about the Federal Writers Project, it gave a voice not only to the poor and marginalized people of the U.S., but it also showcased an entire face of our country that was often overlooked.
As pioneers into a new age and method of writing, these life histories and FWP stories are a huge responsibility for our class as we begin to code them, to translate them into a modern “language”. I know we’ve been mentioning this idea of “authenticity” a lot, and that’s going to be more relevant than ever. We need to keep in mind how to portray these stories in their purest, most true form—presented in the way that they were originally intended.
We’ve all had our own ideas of authenticity and what it means and how to achieve it, but now we’re going to be putting these theories to the test as we handle these historically delicate stories. How can we best convey the authors’ original messages? How can we best code and tag these stories? How can we best classify these stories and integrate them into our own forms of metadata?