Soul of a People is both a book and a documentary film about a handful of people who were on the Federal Writer's Project in the 1930s and a glimpse of America at a turning point. This particular handful of characters went from poverty to great things later, and included John Cheever, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and Studs Terkel. In the 1930s they were all caught up in an effort to describe America from the ground up, in a series of WPA guides. Through striking images and firsthand accounts, the book and film reveal their experiences and the most vivid excerpts from selected guides and interviews. Drawing on new discoveries from personal collections, archives, and recent biographies, the book illuminates what it felt like to live that experience, how going from joblessness to reporting on their own communities affected artists with varied visions, as well as what feelings such a passage involved: shame humiliation, anger, excitement, nostalgia, and adventure. It also includes a list of resources for readers to use in further readings and travels. The film, narrated by actress Patricia Clarkson, appears on the Smithsonian Channel.