(1) Setting the Scene - Growing up in the 1930s Assignment

Setting the Scene – Growing up in the 1930s

To Kill a Mockingbird


Welcome to the world of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird.  You are living in the 1930s.  Your home, neighborhood, school, activities, clothes, and social interactions are vastly different than anything you are familiar with in the year 2012.  This project will take you back in time to learn what your life is like as a young person growing up in the 30s.  Using what you learn, you will write a series of pen pal letters to someone living in 2012.

The Task

You will begin by researching the following resources to learn about your life in the 1930s.  Using the information you learn, you will write four letters in the voice of a person growing up in the 1930s. Consider the sex, race, and age of the "character" that you will become as you write these letters. You may also want to decide on a name for your character. Secondly, determine to whom you will be writing your letters. You might consider writing to a friend, family member, or even your teacher. Each letter will focus on the following four aspects of your life.

1. In your first letter, describe your home and neighborhood in detail.  Include lots of specific and interesting information so that the reader of your letter can visualize your environment.

2. In your second letter, tell about your family.  What types of activities do you enjoy as a family?  What is your standard of living?  How do your parents make a living?

3.  In your third letter, tell about your school and your friends.  Describe your school, classes, and teachers.  Who are your friends, and what are some activities you enjoy doing together?

4. In your fourth letter, describe what’s going on in the world around you. What’s happening in the nation politically and economically?  Tell about popular fashion, music, radio programs, and other interesting facts.


 To Kill a Mockingbird – Chapter 1

Interview:  Growing up White in the South in the 1930s


The women in this interview grew up in the Deep South of the 1930s.  All three were members of prominent Southern families.

Interview:  Growing up Black in the 1930s


Interview of Mrs. Peacolia Barge who grew up just outside Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1930s.

“I Remember..”  Reminiscences of the Great Depression


During the Great Depression of the 1930s, some Michiganians bartered and traded for food, clothes, shelter, and services.  Sharing and “making do” became a way of life.  People who lived during the Depression have interesting stories to share about how they coped with hard times. 

Federal Writer’s Project:  Interview Excerpts


The Federal Writer’s Project of the 1930s recorded more than 10,000 life stories of men and women from a variety of occupations and ethnic groups.  This site is a sampling of those interviews.

Then and Now:  Prices



This site compares 1930s prices with prices today.

The Great Depression and the New Deal


Read about the Federal Works Progress Administration started by the federal government during the Depression.

Last modified: Thursday, 21 June 2012, 12:15 PM