San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

FDR’s Alphabet Soup

Records from the Great Depression
Cath Madden Trindle

Federal Writers Project (WPA) 

1935–1943   NARA RG –  69.5.5 



At its peak, the Writers’ Project employed about 6,500 men and women around the country as writers, researchers, editors, historians, and other field workers, paying them a subsistence wage of about $20 a week.   Among the projects undertaken by the Writer's Project were the American Guide Series, the Historical Records Survey, Life Histories, Slave Narratives and more.
LOC Collections

§  The American Guide Series  (Digital Editions) – Publications specific to California were created by the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of California.

§  Historical Records Survey  See separate blog post

§  California Historic Landmark Collection – Essays written between 1936 and 1940 which may or may not be included in Guide series.

§  Finding Aid for the Federal Writer’s Project of California Records in UCLA Special Collections.  These records which contain essays and research relating to city and county governments, institutions, commerce, arts, sports, history, defense, folklore and more, are specific to the Southern California section and are contained in 206 document boxes.

§  Inventory of the Federal Writers Project Records, 1936 in San Francisco State University: Labor Archives and Research Center

§  The OAC list includes 942 items in 525 collections including an intriguing anonymous letter alleging communist influence in the Project in Oakland and a Documentary History of Migratory Farm Labor in California.  This is an online offering edited by Raymond P. Berry in 1938.  Not all items were created by the FWP, many tell of its history and those that were involved, including biographical information on those that participated.

§  NARA RG –  69.5.5 – Correspondence of specific projects, correspondenc and other records of the Los Angeles, CA, district office, 1935-37, information on FWP copyrights, 1935-40 over 2500 images for guides.  For further information see Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Federal Writers’ Project, Work Projects Administration by Katherine H. Davidson, comp., 1935- 44, PI 57 (1953).

§  Library of Congress – Federal Writer’s Project  — includes more than 6000 online items, including American Life Histories, manuscripts from the FWP 1936-1940.  Web Guide – Federal Writer’s ProjectBorn in Slavery

 For more information on the WPA
§  Works Progress Administration – Wikipedia
§  WPA – 1937 an historic video on YouTube



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