The Great Depression impacted the areas of Virginia’s Lost Appalachian Trail in ways similar to most in the 1930s. Sheltered, to a degree, from the crushing blows of widespread unemployment seen in larger urban areas, rural communities still suffered mightily from the effects of the economic catastrophe. Those from larger, diversified farms stood a better chance of navigating a world of want.
There is no debate that rural communities suffered from the Depression. Markets for agricultural goods dried up in nearby cities and those in search of anything better than the bleak future of depressed cities made trips back home to families in rural communities like Floyd, Hillsville, and Galax.
In the oral history accounts below, the pain of the Great Depression is clearly expressed. The opulence of the United States in the 21st century is a far cry from what is remembered by those interviewed.
This module challenges students to read the accounts of those who lived through the Depression. They should pay attention to those points that are reiterated by the interviewees and common themes on which they focused. How are the recollections of these rural residents both similar and different from the larger view of the Great Depression that they have learned in class? Why do these women feel that their families safely navigated the Depression? How do you think their experiences during the Great Depression impacted the rest of their lives?