Work Projects Administration

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Work Projects Administration

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 Administration. 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.


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

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References in periodicals archive ?
(n.d.) in 11 FEDERAL WRITERS' PROJECT: SLAVE NARRATIVE PROJECT, NORTH CAROLINA, PART 2 at 82, 86 (1938), ("Marster was a mighty good man, a feelin' man.
Pour rendre la societe plus lisible et ameliorer sa representation sociologique puis politique, Rosanvallon propose de retrouver l'esprit des enquetes sociales et des grands romans du dix-neuvieme siecle tout en s'inspirant aussi du Federal Writers' Project mis en place aux Etats-Unis durant le New Deal.
Slave Culture: A Documentary Collection of the Slave Narratives From the Federal Writers' Project; 3 volume set
Generations Volume I: Ex-Slaves with Virginia Origins is a DVD-ROM (a PC with a DVD drive and Adobe Reader software 9.0 or later is required to view its PDF file contents) collecting the information gathered about thousands of former African-American slaves from 1937-38, as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Project Administration.
She also plans to use the time to continue work on her latest book project, "The Beast in the Garden of American Literature." She is also the author of "Writing Chicago: Modernism, Ethnography, and the Novel" (Columbia University Press, 1993) and has published articles on Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, the Federal Writers' Project and Natalia Ginzburg.
The New Deal's Federal Writers' Project (FWP) guidebooks to New York City offered a powerful image of African American inclusion in the national community through New Deal-initiated urban reform.
Ottley moved to the New Deal's WPA Federal Writers' Project, to supervise research on the history of blacks in New York.
Seventeen first-hand accounts of slave life, selected from the 2,300 slave narratives collected by the Federal Writers' Project. Lesson plans examine how the narratives were collected and address questions of credibility.
Kees began to write poetry seriously at about the time that he started working for the Federal Writers' Project in Lincoln, where he met Norris Getty.
In 1936 they moved to Washington, D.C., where John worked for the Library of Congress and the Federal Writers' Project. Bess now did research for the folksong book her father and brother Alan were working on, as she became steeped in vernacular songs, while absorbing the hectic life of the nation's capital.
RALPH ELLISON, in "Remembering Richard Wright," an essay about his early days in New York and the beginning of his friendship with Richard Wright, points to the Federal Writers' Project as "most important to the continuing development of Afro-American artists," and as providing "the possibility for a broader Afro-American freedom." (9) Ellison, who like Wright went on to become one of the most successful black writers of his generation, clarifies his point by reflecting on his personal condition at the time he became involved with the FWP.

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