America before 1929
Was the time before 1929 a time of happiness and prosperity
for your family, or a time of significant difficulties?
(Those whose family cannot remember any family stories from
before 1929 should write an essay on this question: What is the
oldest story repeated in your family, and what does it reveal
about how your family sees itself?
To support your argument, get some family stories about this era.
The following questions should elicit family stories that will be
useful to you. Composing your own questions might be even more
successful, especially if you base those questions on your
knowledge of your family chronology and history.
For those who know stories about World War I:
- Was anyone in your family drafted or did anyone enlist to
serve in World War I? What was the war like?
- Did the war make your family feel patriotic, or did they
oppose the war?
- Did anyone in your family succumb to the major influenza
epidemic in 1918-1919? (Some called it Spanish Flu.)
For those who know stories about the 1920s:
- Was your family prosperous in the Twenties?
- Did the women in your family have their hair bobbed? Why and
how did other people respond? Did women in your family vote?
- Did your family have a car? What was it like?
- In 1924 the KKK had 4 million members, its peak strength.
Does anyone in your family remember hearing about the KKK in the
1920s? What did your family think about it?
- Prohibition went into effect in 1920. Did your family
approve? Did they (or their neighbors) drink during Prohibition?
More general questions for further conversation:
Ask your informant to think about the grandparents or
great-grandparents that he or she knew personally.
- When your informant thinks about them, what does he/she see in
his/her mind's eye -- what clothes are they wearing? what house
or room are they in? what are they doing?
- What were their jobs? favorite leisure activities?
- Whom did they marry? Who were their children?
- What did your informant do when he/she was with them? Did your
informant help with chores? Did they entertain him/her?
- When your informant was young, what did he/she expect it would
be like to be the age he/she is now? Does your informant
think that he/she has turned out to be like his/her own