Rural Poverty: The Depression in the South

Rural Poverty: The Depression in the South
Rosalynn Carter: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: At least three class periods

Standards Compliance
NCSS Strand 1
NCSS Strand 2
Time, Continuity, and Change
NCSS Strand 3
People, Places, and Environments
NCSS Strand 4
Individual Development and Identity
NCSS Strand 5
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
NCSS Strand 6
Power, Authority, and Governance
NCSS Strand 7
Production, Distribution, and Consumption
NCSS Strand 8
Science, Technology, and Society
NCSS Strand 10
Civic Ideals and Practices
NCTE Standard 1
Students read fiction, nonfiction, classic, and contemporary works to acquire information for various purposes.
NCTE Standard 3
Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts.
NCTE Standard 4
Students adjust the use of spoken, written, and visual language to communicate with different audiences and purposes.
NCTE Standard 5
Students use a wide range of strategies and elements to write to communicate with different audiences and for purposes.
NCTE Standard 6
Students apply knowledge of language structure, convention, and media techniques to create, critique, and discuss texts.
NCTE Standard 7
Students conduct research by generating ideas, questions, and problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data.
NCTE Standard 8
Students use a variety of technology and information resources to gather, synthesize, and communicate knowledge.
NCTE Standard 11
Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
NCTE Standard 12
Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes.
ISTE Standard 5
Technology research tools


Both Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, as children, grew up in the South during the leanest years of the Great Depression.  Attention is often centered on the business and banking aspects of the Depression years; however, another side of the story is the issue of rural poverty.


The purpose of this lesson is to acquaint students with the realities of rural poverty in the South during the Great Depression and beyond.  Teachers may wish to expand this idea into a regional study of the South after Reconstruction and bring the focus forward into the late 20th century.     

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet; access to print reference materials; the textbook.


Tell students that the publisher of their textbook has decided to create a whole chapter on the Great Depression and wants to add a section that treats the issue of rural poverty in the South in addition to the information that is currently in their textbook about banks, businesses, and unemployment.  As students who are currently using the text, they have been asked to create a pilot section to be tested around the nation next year.  They should include text as well as visual images that address this critical issue.

Extending the Lesson:

If students are skilled in using various desktop publishing software, the teacher may wish to have students actually create a booklet of their pilot section.  Some students may wish to create a supplemental text in which short stories, essays, poetry, and artwork are featured.  

Sources & Resources:

The Great Depression on Wikipedia 

The Great Depression 

Photographs of the Great Depression 
This lesson was developed by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.