Use the Activities
That Springwood was the keystone in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's public as well as private life is apparent. In fact, some very dramatic events in American history transpired at Springwood. The following activities are designed to help students understand these assertions.
Activity 1: Lifestyles
Activity 2: Remembering When
A. Have students team up in pairs to be an interviewer and a cameraperson. Each pair should arrange to conduct an oral history interview with a willing senior citizen who remembers life during the Depression. All students participating in this activity should meet as a group and develop a common list of questions to ask during interviews. Videotaped interviews will have the greatest impact, but snapshots and a written interview in a newspaper article format or an audiotape also provide valuable learning experiences. Ask the teams to share their interviews with the class and to explain what they learned from an eyewitness that they could not learn from a textbook. If there is student and administrative support, consider establishing a school-based repository for oral histories of the Depression.
B. Ask students to look for WPA-funded projects still existing in their community. Possibilities include post offices, schools, bridges, parks, stadiums, bandshells, etc. Students may turn to local historical societies, old newspapers, and published guides to WPA projects for help in locating a project. Once the students have identified a project, they should research how and why the project was undertaken in their community. They should describe in words and/or artwork or photography the project as it originally was constructed and as it exists today. They should also assess the impact, if any, that the project had on the community in the past and now. Students should report to the class what they have learned about the WPA in their community.