Work Projects Administration


Also found in: Dictionary, Acronyms.

Work Projects Administration

(WPA), former U.S. government agency, established in 1935 by executive order of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the Works Progress Administration; it was renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939, when it was made part of the Federal Works Agency. Created when unemployment was widespread, the WPA—headed by Harry L. Hopkins until 1938—was designed to increase the purchasing power of persons on relief by employing them on useful projects. WPA's building program included the construction of 116,000 buildings, 78,000 bridges, and 651,000 mi (1,047,000 km) of road and the improvement of 800 airports. Also a part of WPA's diversified activities were the Federal Art Project, the Federal Writers' Project, and the Federal Theatre Project. Close to 10,000 drawings, paintings, and sculptured works were produced through WPA, and many public buildings (especially post offices) were decorated with murals. The experiments in theatrical productions were highly praised and introduced many fresh ideas. Musical performances under the project averaged 4,000 a month. The most notable product of writers in WPA was a valuable series of state and regional guidebooks. WPA also conducted an education program and supervised the activities of the National Youth AdministrationNational Youth Administration
(NYA), former U.S. government agency established in 1935 within the Works Progress Administration; it was transferred in 1939 to the Federal Security Agency and was placed in 1942 under the War Manpower Commission.
..... Click the link for more information.
. At its peak WPA had about 3.5 million persons on its payrolls. Altogether WPA employed a total of 8.5 million persons, and total federal appropriations for the program amounted to almost $11 billion. There was sharp criticism of the WPA in a Senate committee report in 1939; the same year the WPA appropriation was cut, several projects were abolished, and others were curtailed. A strike of thousands of WPA workers to prevent a cut in wages on building projects was unsuccessful. Steadily increasing employment in the private sector, much speeded just before and during World War II, caused further drastic cuts in WPA appropriations and payrolls. In June, 1943, the agency officially went out of existence.

Bibliography

See D. S. Howard, WPA and Federal Relief Policy (1943).

References in periodicals archive ?
The State Project Proposal drafted by the Federal Works Agency of the new Work Projects Administration specifically indicated "entertainment services in music to armed service personnel and their families," and for "work to be done at Armed Force Bases .
In particular, the staggering increase of trivial Band-Aid incidents has become a Work Projects Administration project for doctors, lawyers, consultants and several highly paid Los Angeles Unified School District brass.
Federal Government Work Projects Administration programs opened the market for private manufacturers of construction castings.
In 1934, the federal Work Projects Administration (WPA) commissioned a huge mural that would serve as a counterpoint to the miseries of the Great Depression.
Tensas Parish Department of Public Welfare, "For the Welfare of Tensas Parish," 15 March 1937, 7, Tensas Parish Scrapbook, 1937-1975, Manuscript Volume 9, Gladys Means Loyd and Family Papers, Hill Memorial Library, Louisiana State University; Maude Barrett to Loula Dunn, 11 September 1935, frames 0015-0016, reel 1, Selected Documents from the Louisiana Section of the Work Projects Administration General Correspondence File ("State Series") 1935-1943, National Archives Microfilm Publication M1367, Historic New Orleans Collection (hereafter cited as WPA Papers).