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Drought refugee family from McAlester

[Detail] Drought refugee family from McAlester

Lesson Overview

By examining primary sources, including songs, newspapers, interviews, and photographs of migrant farm workers in California during the Great Depression, students create a scrapbook from the point of view of a migrant worker, providing evidence of the colloquial speech used by the migrants and the issues affecting their lives. Using Voices from the Dust Bowl, 1940-1941 and Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives, students select photographs and use the sound recordings of voices of the migrant workers to create captions, letters, and/or songs based on these primary sources. This lesson can be used in connection with a unit on the Great Depression, and specifically on The Grapes of Wrath.


Students will be able to:

  • research in the Library's digital collections;
  • analyze primary sources of various formats;
  • understand the politics of migration and the Great Depression.


Time Required

Two weeks

Recommended Grade Level

  • 9-12


  • Oral Histories


  • Great Depression and WWII, 1929-1945


Amy McElroy & Chris Pietsch