Federal Writers' Project – Life Histories/2013/Spring/Mrs. Bardin

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

Overview[edit | edit source]

The Bardin family consisted of Mrs. Bardin and her husband, Edward Bardin, along with 8 boys and 4 girls living in Wilson NC. Mrs. Bardin was interviewed in the presence of Edward Bardin by a writer from the Federal Writers Project (FWP).

Biography[edit | edit source]

Childhood and Education[edit | edit source]

Mrs. Bardin received up to a 6th grade education until she was forced to stop her schooling to begin work at a cotton mill.[1] Edward Bardin only received a 2nd grade education before beginning work as an engineer. Edward and Mrs. Bardin strongly encouraged their children to get as much education as possible which may have stemmed from their own limited education. Both Edward and Bardin emphasized that much of their education was gathered from working and believed that work experience gave someone a comparable intelligence to education through schooling. High school was the goal for Mrs. Bardin's children, but the Great Depression pulled them away from education.

Children and family[edit | edit source]

The Bardin family had 14 children ranging from 2 to 17 when they were interviewed by the Federal Writers Project during the Great Depression. Though they had many children, Mrs. Bardin hinted that she only had eight of the children around to take care of, but she did not go on to explain about the other four. Edward worked as a mechanic for twenty-two years until the Great Depression caused him to lose his job making it difficult to support the Bardin family. Because Edward had lost his job, their seventeen year old son at the time found employment with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), one of the most popular organizations to come from the New Deal. Family Issues During the interview with Mrs. Bardin as part of the federal writers project, Mrs. Bardin discussed problems with her relationship with Edward Bardin. Mrs. Bardin said she had spotted Edward driving around with another woman. She went on to say that she was tempted to find other men but it had never culminated into anything. Mrs. Bardin also criticized Edward because he only had the skills to work on automobiles which she felt hurts his ability to provide for the family.

Social Issues[edit | edit source]

Civilian Conservation Corps[edit | edit source]

Mrs. Bardin's oldest son was sent off to a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp to help support the Bardin family after Edward lost his job. The Civilian Conservation Corps was a program designed during the New Deal established by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to give work to families that lost their jobs in the recent Great Depression. The program worked by providing young men jobs that would help conserve the natural resources of the United States doing very simple types of work. To qualify, a young man's family must have been receiving a form of government financial aid. The program paid a monthly salary of $30 however $25 would be sent back to the young man's family.[2] The program also offered a voluntary education program during off-duty hours.[2]

Education in North Carolina[edit | edit source]

For the Bardin family, education was regarded as very important because neither Edward Bardin nor Mrs. Bardin received much education during their childhood; as a result, both Edward and Mrs. Bardin wanted their children to stay in school until they finished high school. During the Great Depression, Education was often placed second to work because children often had to work to support the family. Public schools began to cut back on teacher funding and various programs because of lack of funding. In 1933 North Carolina became the first state to have state control of all public schools.[3] Despite the depression, no public schools in North Carolina shut down because of the Depression.[3] Many of the schools were forced to shorten school years to deal with the loss of finding.[4] Economics became a prominent subject taught in schools, and teachers were encouraged to impart their students with an understanding of the impact of the Great Depression.[4]

Changing makeup of the family[edit | edit source]

A clear tension existed between Edward Bardin and Mrs. Bardin in their marriage as evidenced by anecdotes from the interview with Mrs. Bardin by the Federal Writer's Project. During the Great Depression there was a trend such that “… families in which difficulties had already appeared were likely to deteriorate still further."[5] However families that were able to effectively provide income for themselves were drawn closer together. A loss of income for the father of a household would often hurt how he was viewed in the eyes of his wife.[5]

Issues of Historical Production[edit | edit source]

Revision[edit | edit source]

The Federal Writers Project attempted to capture the vernacular and tone of the interviewee when conducting interviews similar the interview with Mrs. Bardin.[2] The interview with Mrs. Bardin may not be true to her actual speech because the interview was revised by Edwin Massengill after the interview took place. It is likely that most of the content stayed the same but it is impossible to know what the interview was like before it was revised. The text from the Federal Writers Project offers no explanation of what was changed in the revision or how the revision was done. The interview contains story-like elements that may have been added to make the text more interesting to readers.

Methods of Interviewing[edit | edit source]

There was an issue with the methods used to interview Mrs. Bardin for the Federal Writers project. The text from the Federal Writers Project introduces the interview with some background about the conditions under which the interview was conducted. This includes a mention of Edward Bardin also being present during the interview which is significant in that Edward's presence may have changed Mrs. Bardin's response. There is a small mention by Mrs. Bardin of some tension between her and Edward Bardin that would likely have been explained further under different conditions.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Combs, Stanley. “Education is a thing” Federal Writers' Project. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Southern Collection. Print.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Cole, Olen. “Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).” Tar Heel Junior Historian. Spring 2010. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Davis, Anita. “Public Schools in the Great Depression.” NCPedia. Spring 2010. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Field, Sherry and Bellows, Elizabeth. “The great depression and elementary school teachers as reported in Grade Teacher magazine.” American Educational History Journal 39. 1-2 (2012): 69. Academic OneFile. Web.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Komarovsky, Mirra. “The Unemployed Man and His Family.” AltaMira Press 1940: Print.