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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
References in periodicals archive ?
Moore, Work Projects Administration, 12 September 1939, Helen Chandler Ryan Collection, MSS 721, box 1, folder 5.
During the Depression, the Work Projects Administration financed The Living Newspaper, a multi-year series of plays based on news ripped from the headlines.
Congress established many new agencies, including the Civilian Conservation Corps, National Youth Administration, Public Works Administration, and Work Projects Administration, which hired people to perform useful tasks.
Back in the 1930s, during the American Great Depression, President Roosevelt created the Work Projects Administration, or WPA, and its sole function was to create honest work for the unemployed masses.
The vote enabled the issuance of a $75,000 bond, seed money for the $3.5 million Work Projects Administration grant that followed.
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.