The High Value of Public Works, Cont’d

by Will on October 21, 2010

During the Depression, the Library of Congress had people go out and do interviews with common Americans all over the country. Those interviews immediately entered the public domain so that historians and other researchers could use them. They are a wonderful resource to people who want to learn about a vast variety of subjects: World War I, slavery, Reconstruction, the plight of the farmer under the Gold Standard, and so on.

In the present day we once again have a lot of people out of work. And it’s once again the case that the elderly among us have lived through a period of revolutionary change: they have witnessed the rise of the city and the decline of the small town, the triumph of the west and the defeat of Hitler and Stalin, the rise of tolerance and the defeat of provincialism, the rise of technology and its radical changing of our lives. Some of my neighbors are old folks who were born in the segregated south to sharecroppers. They came to Oakland and now live radically different lives, living in a place where people like me smile and wave to them. Their stories are probably very interesting! They should be made common property! Why should future researchers be deprived of their stories, when able interviewers are available for work right now?

Leave a Comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Previous post:

Next post: