Taylor County Students Learn West Virginia’s Great Depression Story

Students at Grafton High School received an in-depth look at West Virginia’s struggles during the Great Depression. Arthurdale Heritage’s Jonas Knotts presented West Virginia’s unique depression history to Richard Zukowski’s American history class. The lecture to a class of over 20 students covered everything from the suffering of families in Scotts Run and other communities to infrastructure and conservation efforts of the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The lecture also focused on the unique place of Arthurdale in the New Deal and West Virginia history.

Zukowski said that while students are introduced to the national history of the Great Depression in textbooks, it’s important for students to connect national history to local events, “focusing on West Virginia’s history helps students connect better to the surroundings in their local area.” It affects them personally because many times, they are not aware of just how many roads, buildings, and parks in their community were built during the depression through the New Deal”, said Zukowski.

“Guest lectures and presentations like this help to develop interest about the New Deal and Arthurdale among students”, said Knotts. The lecture can also help students draw connections between the 1930s and today. “By learning about New Deal programs in West Virginia, students can draw parallels between those programs and the current recession stimulus programs like the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, Cash for Clunkers, and the Troubled Asset Relief Program”, said Zukowski.

AHI provides numerous educational opportunities including tailored age and topic appropriate tours of Arthurdale’s New Deal Homestead Museum, guest lecturers, and speakers. AHI is happy to provide these to schools and community organizations. For more information about AHI education opportunities, email ahi@arthurdaleheritage.org.

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