Preserving Southern History
History textbooks teach students about the catastrophic results of the economic crash during the Great Depression. What is missing all too often are the heart-touching and gut-wrenching personal accounts that Dick J. Reavis found in the Southern Worker.
Reavis, associate professor in the Department of English, stumbled on the Southern Worker, an anti-racist newspaper from the 1930s, while he was conducting research for his book, “Catching Out; The Secret World of Day Laborers.”
Reavis was intrigued as he read the stories about — and letters from — poor southerners trying to survive the Great Depression, struggling against pitiful living conditions and awful labor standards.
“You get this touching and unfiltered horse’s-mouth report on the Great Depression. The journalist in me wanted to preserve that,” Reavis says. Over a three- year period, he and some of his students created an online archive of the Southern Worker that’s accessible to all.