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Federal Writers' Project

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Poster advertising a Federal Writers' Project publication.

The Federal Writers' Project (FWP) was a United States federal government project to fund written work and support writers during the Great Depression. It was part of the Works Projects Administration, a New Deal program. It was one of four New Deal arts programs known collectively as Federal One. FWP was particularly charged with employing writers, editors, historians, researchers, art critics, archaeologists, geologists and cartographers. Some 6,600 individuals were employed by the FWP.

Established on July 27, 1935, the Writers' Project operated under journalist and theatrical producer Henry Alsberg, and later John D. Newsome, and produced local histories, oral histories, ethnographies, children's books and 48 state guides to America (plus Alaska Territory, Puerto Rico and D.C.)—the American Guide Series publications were described as a "public Baedeker's Guide."

Federal sponsorship for the Federal Writers' Project continued until 1939, though the program was permitted to continue under state sponsorship until April 27, 1943. By the time it was shut down, the FWP had already contributed an immense amount to the field of American studies.

Contents

Noted authors and reesearchers who participated in the WPA Federal Writers' Project


Titles in the American Guide Series

Cities

  • Erie[, Pennsylvania]; a guide to the city and county, 1938.
  • New Orleans City Guide, 1938.
  • The New York City Guide: A Comprehensive Guide to the Five Boroughs of the Metropolis—Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Richmond, 1939.
  • The WPA Guide to Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors, 1943.

States

  • Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South, 1941.
  • Arizona: A State Guide, 1940.
  • Arkansas: A Guide to the State, Arizona, 1941.
  • California: A Guide to the Golden State, 1939.
  • Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State, 1941.
  • Connecticut: A Guide to Its Roads, Lore, and People, 1938.
  • Delaware: A Guide to the First State, 1938.
  • Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State, 1939.
  • Georgia: A Guide to Its Towns and Countryside, 1940.
  • Idaho: A Guide to Word and Picture, 1937.
  • Illinois: A Descriptive and Historical Guide, 1939.
  • Indiana: A Guide to the Hoosier State, 1941.
  • Iowa: A Guide to the Hawkeye State, 1938.
  • Kansas: A Guide to the Sunflower State, 1939.
  • Kentucky: A Guide to the Bluegrass State, 1939.
  • Louisiana: A Guide to the State, 1941.
  • Maine: A Guide 'Down East' , 1937.
  • Maryland: A Guide to the Old Line State, 1940.
  • Massachusetts: A Guide to Its Places and People, 1937.
  • Michigan: A Guide to the Wolverine State, 1941.
  • Minnesota: A State Guide, 1938.
  • Mississippi: A Guide to the Magnolia State, 1938.
  • Missouri: A Guide to the 'Show Me' State, 1941.
  • Montana: A State Guide Book, 1939.
  • Nebraska: A Guide to the Cornhusker State, 1939.
  • Nevada: A Guide to the Silver State, 1940.
  • New Hampshire: A Guide to the Granite State, 1938.
  • New Jersey: A Guide to Its Present and Past, 1939.
  • New Mexico: A Guide to the Colorful State, 1940.
  • New York: A Guide to the Empire State, 1940.
  • North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State, 1939.
  • North Dakota: A Guide to the Northern Prairie State, 1938.
  • The Ohio Guide, 1940.
  • Oklahoma: A Guide to the Sooner State, 1941
  • Oregon: The End of the Trail, 1940.
  • Pennsylvania: A Guide to the Keystone State, 1940.
  • Rhode Island: A Guide to the Smallest State, 1937.
  • South Carolina: A Guide to the Palmetto State, 1941.
  • A South Dakota Guide, 1938.
  • Tennessee: A Guide to the State, 1939.
  • Texas: A Guide to the Lone Star State, 1940.
  • Utah: A Guide to the State, 1941.
  • Vermont: A Guide to the Green Mountain State, 1937.
  • Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion, 1940.
  • Washington, City and Capital, 1937
  • Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State, 1941.
  • West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State, 1941.
  • Wisconsin: A Guide to the Badger State, 1941.
  • Wyoming: A Guide to Its History, Highways and People, 1941.

Regions and territories, etc.

  • A Guide to Alaska: Last American Frontier, 1939.
  • Puerto Rico: A Guide to the Island of Boriquen, 1940.
  • Here's New England! A Guide to Vacationland, 1939
  • New York Panorama, 1938.
  • The WPA Guide to the Minnesota Arrowhead Country, 1941.

Further reading

  • Brentano's, Catalogue of the American Guide Series and other Writers Project publications, New York: Brentano's.
  • Brewer, Jeutonne P., The Federal Writers' Project: a bibliography, Metuchen, NH: Scarecrow Press, 1994.
  • Fleischhauer, Carl, and Beverly W. Brannan, eds., Documenting America, 1935-1943, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
  • Mangione, Jerre, The dream and the deal: the Federal Writers' Project, 1935-1943, Boston: Little, Brown, 1972.
  • Meltzer, Milton, Violins & shovels: the WPA arts projects, New York: Delacorte Press, 1976.
  • Powell, Evanell K., WPA Writers' publications: a complete bibliographic check list and price guide of items, major and minor, of the Federal Writers' Project and Program, Palm Beach, Fla.: Evanell K. Powell, n.d.
  • Penkower, Monty Noam, The Federal Writers' Project: A Study in Government Patronage of the Arts, Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1977.

External links


Federal Writers' Project | Historical Records Survey | Federal Theatre Project | Federal Art Project | Federal Music Project
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