Federal Writers' Project – Life Histories/2021/Summer/105/Section 03/Mary Hine

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Mary Hines[edit | edit source]

Overview:[edit | edit source]

Mary Hines, an African American mother from Alabama, who was interviewed for the Federal Writers’ Project.


Biography:[edit | edit source]

Adult Life:[edit | edit source]

In the early 1900s, Mary Hines was born in Monroe County.[1] She became a mother of an African American family that lived in Columbia, Alabama in the mid 1900s.[2] She had nine children, but four died, leaving her with four daughters and a son.[3] Hines’ husband, Dock Hines, and all four daughters worked as teachers to earn money, making them wealthier than most African American families in their neighborhood.[4] Although they were better suited than other African American families, Dock ended his teaching career to work in the sawmills for Harry Patterson since they needed more income to get by.[5] However, during the post-civil war era, Dock suffered an infection in his eyes where a cataract impacted his vision.[6] Cataracts are clumps of proteins that form on the lens of the eye affecting the image being seen.[7] This disease was only fixable through surgery which was unaffordable for the family due to their economic status. After this tragedy, the family was greatly impacted since Dock could not work routinely anymore, causing the whole family to work in the fields to prevent them from starving.[8] This family faced many difficulties but persevered through the challenges together and by doing so, two daughters received a high level of education.


The Great Depression:[edit | edit source]

The Great Depression impacted American citizens' lives, but African Americans were affected the most and many of them lost their jobs.[9] This shows that African American families were forced into poverty and struggled financially during this time. The Hines lived in a three bedroom house with a living room, kitchen and dining room.[10] During the Depression, they could not afford it but all her daughters were teachers, making them more financially stable than most African American families.[11] They were trying to reclaim possession of their house by paying the government 5 dollars a month for seven years to be able to live there again.[12] This showed that the Hines’ were directly impacted by the Depression but by the new movement towards equality, two daughters were able to receive an education to help the family with finances. Myrtice and Blona, Hines’ daughters, went to the Alabama State Teachers’ College in Montgomery, which was an all-black institution.[13] They lived on a white family's farm and worked in exchange for an education.[14] The lack of money created challenges but they figured out how to overcome them by working. Hines’ daughters became teachers after they earned an education.[15]


Social events:[edit | edit source]

African American Poverty:[edit | edit source]

The economic status of African Americans in the 1900s impacted many aspects of their lives. After the Great Depression, Americans struggled to be employed and African Americans faced poverty.[16] Compared to whites, African Americans rates for unemployment and poverty were increasingly higher but African Americans did not receive support from the government for health benefits or other programs.[17] The government did not assist African Americans they same way they helped whites, causing African American’s life expectancy to decrease fifteen years before the average white person.[18] The economic status of African Americans caused difficulties to find employment, their health to decrease, and poverty.


African American Education:[edit | edit source]

Receiving a high-level education was difficult for African Americans due to their economic status. After the Civil War many new opportunities were given to African Americans. During the post-civil war era, education started opening up for African Americans.[19] Normal schools grew and developed into welcoming communities for people and provided high levels of education for all Americans separated by all-white and all-black schools.[20] Normal schools provided an all-black institution for African Americans to learn how to become teachers and train themselves to work for high schools.[21] Normal schools highlighted teaching methods and skills to keep students engaged during class.[22] African American’s education increased after the Civil War allowing African American women to enter the workforce.[23] Many women started teaching as a profession and over time more women started teaching than men.[24] Education for African Americans was limited before the Civil War but due to changes in the society, they were able to get high levels of education.


Bibliography:[edit | edit source]

Berkeley, Kathleen C. "“The Ladies Want to Bring about Reform in the Public Schools”: Public Education and Women's Rights in the Post-Civil War South." History of Education Quarterly 24, no. 1 (1984): 45-58. Accessed July 21, 2021.

Bowman, Annie L. “Folder 3: Bowman, Annie L. (Interviewer): Another Version of the above Interview.” Federal Writers Project Papers. Accessed July 13, 2021. https://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/03709/id/995.

Delgado, Amanda. “Cataract: Types, Causes and Risk Factors.” Healthline. Healthline Media, September 29, 2017. https://www.healthline.com/health/cataract#outlook.

Donna R Causey Donna R. Causey. “Donna R Causey.” Alabama Pioneers, July 10, 2019. https://www.alabamapioneers.com/a-story-of-the-hines-family-of-atmore-alabama-written-in-1939/#google_vignette.

Herbst, Jurgen. “Nineteenth‐Century Normal Schools in the United States: a Fresh Look.” History of Education 9, no. 3 (1980): 219–27. https://doi.org/10.1080/0046760800090303.

“Race Relations in the 1930s and 1940s  :  Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945  :  U.S. History Primary Source Timeline  :  Classroom Materials at the Library of Congress  :  Library of Congress.” The Library of Congress. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://www.loc.gov/classroom-materials/united-states-history-primary-source-timeline/great-depression-and-world-war-ii-1929-1945/race-relations-in-1930s-and-1940s/.

Ogren, Christine A. ""A Large Measure Of Self-Control and Personal Power": Women Students at State Normal Schools During the Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Centuries." Women's Studies Quarterly 28, no. 3/4 (2000): 211-32. Accessed July 20, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40005486.

Pimpare, Stephen. "Great Recession vs. Great Depression." The New Faces of American Poverty: A Reference Guide to the Great Recession [2 Volumes]: A Reference Guide to the Great Recession (2014).

  1. Donna R Causey, “Donna R Causey,” Alabama Pioneers, July 10, 2019, https://www.alabamapioneers.com/a-story-of-the-hines-family-of-atmore-alabama-written-in-1939/#google_vignette, 6.
  2. Annie L Bowman, “Folder 3: Bowman, Annie L. (Interviewer): Another Version of the above Interview,” Federal Writers Project Papers, accessed July 13, 2021, https://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/03709/id/995, 17.
  3. Bowman, 17.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Bowman, 20.
  6. Bowman, 21.
  7. Amanda Delgado, “Cataract: Types, Causes and Risk Factors,” Healthline (Healthline Media, September 29, 2017), https://www.healthline.com/health/cataract#outlook, 1.
  8. Ibid.
  9. “Race Relations in the 1930s and 1940s  :  Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945  :  U.S. History Primary Source Timeline  :  Classroom Materials at the Library of Congress  :  Library of Congress,” The Library of Congress, accessed July 14, 2021, https://www.loc.gov/classroom-materials/united-states-history-primary-source-timeline/great-depression-and-world-war-ii-1929-1945/race-relations-in-1930s-and-1940s/, 1.
  10. Bowman, 17-18.
  11. Bowman, 17.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Bowman, 23.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Stephen Pimpare, "Great Recession vs. Great Depression." The New Faces of American Poverty: A Reference Guide to the Great Recession [2 Volumes]: A Reference Guide to the Great Recession (2014): 76. Hanson, Lindsey K.; Essenburg, Timothy J. (2014-01-15). The New Faces of American Poverty: A Reference Guide to the Great Recession [2 Volumes]: A Reference Guide to the Great Recession (in en). ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-61069-182-6. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=imqEAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA73&dq=African+Americans+not+being+able+to+afford+health+insurance+after+great+Depression&ots=zL4Ph2aWkw&sig=E9Aq90X9OBHSZHUE2ElfuwNsloE#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  17. Ibid.
  18. Pimpare, 74-75.
  19. Bowman, 23.
  20. Christine A Ogren, "" A Large Measure Of Self-Control and Personal Power": Women Students at State Normal Schools During the Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Centuries." Women's Studies Quarterly 28, no. 3/4 (2000): 211. Ogren, Christine A. (2000). ""A Large Measure Of Self-Control and Personal Power": Women Students at State Normal Schools During the Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Centuries". Women's Studies Quarterly 28 (3/4): 211–232. ISSN 0732-1562. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40005486. 
  21. Ogren, 211.
  22. Jurgen Herbst, “Nineteenth‐Century Normal Schools in the United States: a Fresh Look,” History of Education 9, no. 3 (1980): pp. 219-227, https://doi.org/10.1080/0046760800090303, 222.
  23. Kathleen C Berkeley, "“The Ladies Want to Bring about Reform in the Public Schools”: Public Education and Women's Rights in the Post-Civil War South." History of Education Quarterly 24, no. 1 (1984): 50. Berkeley, Kathleen C. (1984). ""The Ladies Want to Bring about Reform in the Public Schools": Public Education and Women's Rights in the Post-Civil War South". History of Education Quarterly 24 (1): 45–58. doi:10.2307/367992. ISSN 0018-2680. https://www.jstor.org/stable/367992. 
  24. Berkeley, 53.