By Susan Floyd, Archivist
In February, we published a finding aid for records relating to a New Deal program: the Texas Writers’ Project, an undertaking of the Work Projects Administration. Originally established as the Works Progress Administration on May 6, 1935, the WPA was a federal relief agency created by an executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In Texas, the WPA employed 600,000 in a wide variety of projects based on local needs and workforce skills. These projects included construction, vocational training, childcare, garment manufacturing, gardening and food production, healthcare, libraries and archives, recreation, and the arts.
The Texas Historical Records Survey and the Texas Writers’ Project, both organized in 1935, were two major WPA-led archival and literacy programs. The Writers’ Project, directed by author and newspaperman James Francis (J. Frank) Davis, employed researchers and writers to compile guides to the state and its regions focusing on cultural, geographic, and historical points of interest. The Project’s best-known publication was Texas: A Guide to the Lone Star State (1940). Writers also worked on major publications such as America Eats; Hands That Built America (sometimes also referred to as Hands that Built the Nation); and, together with the Texas Historical Records Survey, The Western Range: The Story of the Grasslands.