"This collection of life histories consists of approximately 2,900 documents, compiled and transcribed by more than 300 writers from 24 states, working on the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program that was part of the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936 to 1940. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents vary in form from narratives to dialogues to reports to case histories. They chronicle vivid life stories of Americans who lived at the turn of the century and include tales of meeting Billy the Kid, surviving the 1871 Chicago fire, pioneer journeys out West, grueling factory work, and the immigrant experience. Writers hired by this Depression-era work project included Ralph Ellison, Nelson Algren, May Swenson, and many others. The documents often describe the informant’s physical appearance, family, education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores. Pseudonyms are often substituted for individuals and places named in the narrative texts. The life histories comprise a small part of the larger Manuscript Division collection titled United States Work Projects Administration Records."
Nat Love, the son of enslaved parents Sampson Love and a mother whose name is unknown, was born in June 1854, on Robert Love's plantation in Davidson County, Tennessee. After Emancipation, Nat Love's parents remained on the plantation as sharecroppers. In February 1869, Love left Tennessee and headed west. He found work as a cowboy, first on the Duval Ranch in the Texas panhandle, then on the Gallinger Ranch in southern Arizona (1872-1890). During these years, Love traveled extensively throughout the western U.S. as he helped herd cattle to market. In 1889, he married a woman named Alice, and the couple had one child. In 1890, Love retired from cow-herding and worked on the railroads as a Pullman sleeping car porter. His last job was as security guard with the General Securities Company in Los Angeles, California, where he died in 1921.
Book Sources: Cowboys & Ranchers
A selection of books/e-books available in Trible Library.
Click the title for location and availability information.
"The Western Frontier Library is designed to introduce today’s readers to the exciting events in our frontier past and to some of the memorable writings about them. These original narratives and eye-witness accounts include such classic documents as Life in the Far West, by George Frederick Ruxton, The Vigilantes of Montana by Thomas J. Dimsdale, and The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid by Pat F. Garrett. Each volume carries an introduction by a modern authority."