Extraordinary ordinary people
Re “Patt Morrison Asks: Dave Isay,” Opinion, April 8
When I was at Northwestern University in Chicago in the 1980s, I took a seminar on the history of women’s work. Our final research paper for the course required students to write on a topic using only primary sources.
I chose to study the work of slave women and discovered the Federal Writers’ Project (part of the Works Progress Administration) Slave Narrative Program, which interviewed thousands of former slaves. These narratives are an invaluable resource and shed light on the daily lives of slaves.
Interestingly, on my topic, the most poignant descriptions of the work women did were not from the women themselves.
Rather, the best, most poignant tellings were from the women’s children, who had immense respect and regard for the burdens placed on their mothers.
I hope that Dave Isay’s StoryCorps — which, as Patt Morrison notes, won a $1-million TED prize awarded annually to a proposal that can change the world — will be able to chronicle the everyday lives of our extraordinary ordinary people for future generations to understand.