Federal Writers' Project – Life Histories/2021/Summer/105/Section 10/Mary Windsor

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Mary Windsor - Overview and Issues Discussed[edit | edit source]

Biography[edit | edit source]

Personal Life[edit | edit source]

Mary Windsor, a 23 year old born in Hardee County, Florida, was a white wife to a sharecropper, Willie. She was always very dependent on him and always needed him for something or whenever something went wrong. They lived in a secluded area in the country, away from everyone. Mary dreamt of having a great big farm to live on and a big car and house. She explains that she doesn’t want to be living out in the woods for that much longer, especially because she gets lonesome. Mary had a four year old daughter named Teeny in which she cared a lot about. She explained that moving into the city would be better for Teeny and that folks say city people are smarter. She also explained that when Teeny goes to grade school, they would have to move because they wouldn’t feel it would be safe if she walked. Mary loved her husband and daughter so much. She felt very dependent on Willie and always knew he would be there when something went wrong. [1]

Social Context[edit | edit source]

There are two very important social and cultural issues that Mary discusses and exemplifies in her life. First, Mary says that she and her family will have to move to the city when Teeny, her four year old daughter, goes to grade school. This raised the issue of educational services and everything involved with it. Mary had many concerns and was not sure if Teeny could get an equal education if they lived in the city rather than the country. Also, not everyone had equal access to education back then and this then brought up how different educational services were back then compared to now. Some schoolhouses were one room buildings that had teachers with little training. Also, most schools just taught basic grammar and math skills, which was not very beneficial to many students. American’s, like Mary, had a lot of concerns and worries that schools would fail to prepare their students for what challenges awaited them in life and the challenges they would face when they go out in to the real world. Back then, in many children’s cases, this could be really early in their lives. A cultural issue was also brought up, which was the increase in population in the cities. There was also an increase in population because of the immigrants coming to America. With an increase in population in the cities and immigrants coming into America, that meant that the nation’s educational services had to improve. American schools had to restructure their learning techniques. A lot of emphasis was placed on the improvement of efficiency within the schools. Therefore, the education would be better much better in the cities. This was one of the major societal and cultural issues Mary discussed in her life. [2]

The second issue is one that Mary doesn’t exactly discuss, but one that is examined and obvious. Mary goes on a lot about how her husband, Willie, knows everything and always knows what to do when something goes wrong. Whenever she is sick, Teeny is sick, or when something at the house isn’t right, she explains that she always depends on Willie to heal them and fix everything. This brings up the societal issue of women being dependent on men in the back in the day around the 1900s. During this time period, there were a lot of different reasons for women to be dependent on men. Some reasons included jobs, protection, and families. This also connects to the time period of the Great Depression. During this time period, unemployment was through the roof and many families couldn’t support themselves. This issue of Mary and her husband can greatly relate to it because those were very rough times for families, and most women probably depended on their men to go out and make every penny they could. It also greatly relates to the fact Mary was so dependent on Willie to know everything and fix everything. She also depended on his job to make the money for their family and to provide for Teeny. Women depended on men to work just like Mary depended on Willie to work. Society expected that from women and it was expected because women needed the protection from men in many ways. They needed the buffer for them and the resources that they got for the family. Today, society has changed a lot and women are very independent. Although women are so much more independent now, there are some factors that contribute to this issue in today’s world.[3]

Ichabod Crane Schoolhouse. Owned by Columbia County Historical Society, New York is open to the public and operates as a museum.

Works Cited[edit | edit source]

  1. “Folder 106: Darsey and Huss (Interviewers): Mary Windsor.” Federal Writers Project Papers. Accessed July 19, 2021. https://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/03709/id/885/rec/1.
  2. “." U*X*L American Decades. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Jun. 2021 .” Encyclopedia.com. Encyclopedia.com, July 16, 2021. https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/culture-magazines/1900s-education-overview.
  3. “Women Are Dependent on Men...” Times of Malta. Accessed July 19, 2021. https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/women-are-dependent-on-men.341011.