Soul of a People: The WPA Writers' Project Uncovers Depression America 

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Soul of a People is about a handful of people who were on the Federal Writer's Project in the 1930s and a glimpse of America at a turning point. This particular handful of characters went from poverty to great things later, and included John Cheever, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and Studs Terkel. In the 1930s they were all caught up in an effort to describe America in a series of WPA guides. Through striking images and firsthand accounts, the book reveals their experiences and the most vivid excerpts from selected guides and interviews: Harlem schoolchildren, truckers, Chicago fishmongers, Cuban cigar makers, a Florida midwife, Nebraskan meatpackers, and blind musicians. This book (and the documentary film of the same title) illuminate what it felt like to live that experience, how going from joblessness to reporting on communities affected artists with varied visions, as well as the feelings involved: shame humiliation, anger, excitement, nostalgia, and adventure.

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