Ex­tra­or­di­nary or­di­nary peo­ple

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

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.

Wendy Prober-Co­hen


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