|What kinds of work do people do?|
Ask the children what they want to do when they grow up, and common answers will still include police officer, firefighter, and teacher. Still, there are many other career options open to people, especially as technology creates new jobs.
What Primary Sources Can Tell Us about Work People Do
By examining the types of items people use on and off their jobs, and what they earn from their work, we can learn more about the work people do.
A Photograph of a California Depression-Era Migrant Town
Business enterprises in Central Valley, California
Between 1933 and 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt put into effect a program called “The New Deal.” Its purpose was to put people back to work, and thus counteract the impact of the nation’s Great Depression. One of the agencies created under The New Deal was the Farm Security Administration (FSA). In addition to granting small farmers and tenant farmers money to purchase farms, the FSA also hired photographers to document the lives of farmers, migrant workers, and owners of small businesses. The image shown here, shot by FSA photographer Russell Lee was also taken in California’s Central Valley in 1940. Dorothea Lange’s photograph of a migrant mother and her children this is item 1 of 100 when a search is done within American Women: A Gateway to Library of Congress Resources for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States - “Dorothea Lange, migrant worker, Nipoma California”] is perhaps the most famous image to come out of the project. It was taken in Nipoma, California, in California’s Central Valley in 1936.
Woman buying candy
Good Business Practices: Assessing a Community’s Needs
In today’s congested world, most people are only a short drive away from a movie theater, post office, supermarket, and restaurants. We can access local, national, and international news from a TV, radio, and the Internet. And if the car breaks down or needs gas, there is usually a service station nearby that can help us out. But what do people do when they do not live near such services? And what did they do long ago when today’s essentials were either non-existent or considered luxuries? In this activity, children will think about the types of businesses they consider most important to have nearby.
What Kinds of Businesses Does Our Community Need?
1. Distribute a copy of the photograph of the line of stores in California’s Central Valley to each child. Ask the children if they know what kinds of stores are shown. If the children are able to identify any of the ones in the picture, ask them how they know what it is.
2. Read aloud what the signs in the photograph say. Then ask:
3. Distribute art supplies (crayons, markers, and drawing paper) to each child, and tell the class to imagine that they are starting a new town out in the middle of nowhere. What kinds of stores would they like to see opened up first? Using the photograph as a model, have the children draw their own small line of stores—including at least four, such as are shown in the picture. Help the children to label the signs on the stores that they draw. Then ask the children to explain why they selected the businesses they did.
Additional Primary Sources
Image credits: a. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division: LC-USF34-038149-D DLC; b. Russell Illig/Getty Images