Starting in the mid-1930s, the WPA sent interviewers out with specific instructions and topics to record the feelings of the average (and not so average) members of the American society. Over three thousand of these structured interviews were recorded. The content of the interviews was determined by a set of specific instructions for the interviewers. There were ten topics to be discussed in no particular order, as long as they were covered. Because of the multiple interviewers, presentation of the information varies from a narrative structure to exact quotes. It was the content that mattered.

These Are Our Lives is a selection of thirty-five "representative" stories taken from people living in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Within these thirty-five examples, you find people both rich and poor. You find the expected differing views on topics such as work, politics, and family. This site offers you the differing views on education, religion, politics, and health as told to the interviewers fifty years ago. The views presented here were chosen for the variety of opinions and origins.

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The photographs presented throughout this site are not part of the original document. These have been provided through the Library of Congress Life Histories site and the Jackson Davis Grant at the Special Collections at the University of Virginia.

This site was created by Ronda Grogan as part of the 1930s project at AS@UVA. Please send us your questions and comments.