WPA Oral Histories Archive

American Life Histories is an amazing collection of life histories compiled by writers for the WPA from 1936-1940.

History photosThese oral history transcripts are an eye-opening thing to read through and also give a great sense of why oral history is such an important thing to collect and preserve. You can search through the transcripts by keyword or by state. There’s so much of interest there, including this excerpt from the stories of E. F. Forsgard of Waco, Texas:

“Four or five or six of these big gamblers would sometimes get together in one of their places and play poker. Sometimes the game would run for as long as a week. If one of them wanted to leave the game for awhile to take a nap or go out in town, he’d count up the money he had, the banker would make a note of it, and the gambler would stack it to one side on the table, and it would be there when he came back, even if he was gone a day or two.

A lot of gambling would go on right on the square. The cowboys, gamblers and Mexicans would come into town and tie their horses to the hitchrack on the square, spread down a blanket, get out their cards and have a game right there among their horses.”

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