Federal Writers' Project – Life Histories/2013/Fall/Mrs. T. C. Ingle

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This page is connected with English 105 at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill - Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories

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Overview[edit | edit source]

Mrs. T. C. Ingle grew up during the time of the Great Depression and was born on a farm where she spent most of her childhood. She gave her story to the Federal Writers' Project on February 28, 1939. Anne Winn Stevens gave the interview and wrote her life story.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Mrs. T. C. Ingle was forced to drop out of school after the third grade in order to help support her family financially. She worked mostly as a housemaid until the age of seventeen when she married a man named Henry Walters. Henry Walters and Mrs. T. C. Ingle had ten healthy children together. Mrs. T. C. Ingle held education very highly in her household and believed it was the key to a positive future. She pushed all ten of her children in school in hopes of them all earning high school diplomas. Nine out of ten of their children earned their diplomas. One of her daughters wanted to go on to peruse a college degree but decided to work instead because she knew her family was in need of her financial support. The one child who did not graduate was involved in a drinking and driving accident forcing him to drop out of school and be incarcerated. Most of their children stuck around after their schooling to help support the family.

Henry Walters had a very serious drinking problem and was never able to hold a steady job leaving Mrs. T. C. Ingle to be the breadwinner. Mrs. T. C. Ingle was a very involved member of the local church. She held weekly church meetings in her own house in order to try and persuade her husband to stop drinking and accept God. Initially, Henry cursed his wife for doing so and continued to drink. However, after a while, he finally gave into religion and stopped drinking. After quitting drinking, he was finally able to obtain a job as a tree surgeon (lumberjack) and help support their family. He only delivered his services to people he felt had strong religious values and good morals such as himself. They lived in a one and a half story cottage that was decently furnished.[1]

Access to Education[edit | edit source]

Access to Education was a big issue that Mrs. T. C. Ingle and her family faced. She was forced to drop out of school at a young age to help support her family. In the article “Education during the Great Depression” it mentions a variety of reasons children in the Great Depression were forced to drop out of school.[2] Many public schools forced their students to start bringing their own materials, which certain parents could not afford to pay at the time. There were even some students who chose themselves to drop out: “Students were also forced to wear worn out, mended cloth and were too embarrassed to go to school” (Mark Simpson). Mrs. T. C. Ingle managed to push all nine out of her ten kids all the way through high school, which was rare during the Great Depression.

Economic Effects on Marital Relations[edit | edit source]

Economic effects on marriages were also a prevalent social issue during that time that Mrs. T. C. Ingle had to face with her husband. As stated previously, Mrs. T. C. Ingle’s husband could not hold a job leaving her to deal with all the financial stress. It was not that rare to see wives being the most financially stable during the Great Depression; Ruth Milkman shared a statistic showing that women had a lower unemployment rate than men during that time[3]. During the time of the Great Depression, a lot of the things marriages needed to survive were difficult to find. In fact, Jeffery K. Liker and Glen H. Elder, Jr. state, “The distinctive and most jarring feature of life in the Great Depression is the substantial loss of marital resources (jobs, income), as distinguished from chronic poverty.”[4] There is a positive link that has been discovered between marital stress and a married couples’ financial situation.[5] Mrs. T. C. Ingle had an unusual and extraordinary story because she and her husband were able to stay together despite the amount of tension their economic situation put on their relationship.

Historical Production Issues[edit | edit source]

The Federal Writers’ Project was the US Government’s attempt to fund written work and support writers during the Great Depression. It was apart of the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal program. The interviewer of Mrs. T. C. Ingle, Anne Winn Stevens, mostly let her tell her own story but would sometimes ask a question or two for clarification. One potential issue was the chance that the author embellished Mrs. T. C. Ingle’s life story. For example, their entire family was heavily involved in the church. Her husband even turned to it in a harsh time, which led to him turning his life around. In the article by the New Yorker titled Religion during the great depression, the author speaks about how many would think that during the Great Depression, people were expected to turn to religion but the clergy only saw a surprising 5% increase[6]. Anne Winn Stevens could have potentially embellished the part about religion solving Mrs. T. C. Ingle’s husbands drinking problem because she may have believed it made for better writing. In, How Valid are the Federal Writer’s Life Stories: An Iconoclast Among the True Believers, Leonard Rapport asserts many of the writers understood the reason why the Government hired them. The writers believed they were only hired to keep them busy which caused them to not care about their work as much. The author Mrs. T. C. Ingle’s story might have brightened up this seemingly amazing story to make her work a little more interesting and exciting to write about opposed to the actual truth. Rapport states in his paper: “It isn’t easy as easy to distinguish between pure gold and the fools’ gold of the writers projects life stories.” Rapport also reports that the staff of the Southern Historical Collections does not seem interested in tests for validity for these stories.[7]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mrs. T. C. Ingle. Interview by Anne Winn Stevens. Personal Interview 28 February, 1939.
  2. 2. Simpson, Mike. "Education During the Great Depression." Blogspot. 04 11 2012: 1. Print. <http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2012/11/education-during-great-depression-yahoo.html>.
  3. 3. Milkman, Ruth. "Women's Work and Economic Crisis: Some Lessons of the Great Depression." Sage Journals. 01 04 1976: n. page. Print. <http://rrp.sagepub.com/content/8/1/71.full.pdf+html>.
  4. 5. Jeffery, Liker. Economic Hardship and Marital Relations in the 1930s. University of Michigan, Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/2095227.pdf?acceptTC=true&acceptTC=true&jpdConfirm=true>.
  5. 5. Jeffery, Liker. Economic Hardship and Marital Relations in the 1930s. University of Michigan, Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/2095227.pdf?acceptTC=true&acceptTC=true&jpdConfirm=true>.
  6. 1. "Religion during the Depression." New Yorker. n.d. 1. Print. <http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug02/newyorker/religion.html>.
  7. 4. Rapport, Leonard. "How Valid Are the Federal Writers' Project Life Stories: An Iconoclast Among the True Believers." Oxford University Press. 01 04 1976: n. page. Print. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3675185>.