American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work
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Seventy-five years after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, here for the first time is the remarkable story of one of its enduring cornerstones, the Works Progress Administration (WPA): its passionate believers, its furious critics, and its amazing accomplishments.
The WPA is American history that could not be more current, from providing economic stimulus to renewing a broken infrastructure. Introduced in 1935 at the height of the Great Depression, when unemployment and desperation ruled the land, this controversial nationwide jobs program would forever change the physical landscape and social policies of the United States. The WPA lasted eight years, spent $11 billion, employed 8½ million men and women, and gave the country not only a renewed spirit but a fresh face. Now this fascinating and informative book chronicles the WPA from its tumultuous beginnings to its lasting presence, and gives us cues for future action.
PART VII THE WPA UNDER ATTACK A government agency, supported by public funds, has become part and parcel of the Communist party. —REPRESENTATIVE J. PARNELL THOMAS I must express my…'disappointment over the very un-American way in which the committee has handled charges against this project. —ELLEN S. WOODWARD, DIRECTOR, WPA WOMEN’S AND PROFESSIONAL PROJECTS 1. WAR AMONG THE DEMOCRATS The fury of the New England hurricane was short-lived compared to the turbulence that had been
Federal Theatre Project’s Play Bureau, who was familiar with all the plays mounted by the project, and Ted Mauntz, the New York project’s information director, undertook to answer the charges of widespread Communist influence. They broke down the composition of the theater parties that were a large part of the Federal Theatre audiences to reveal that of more than 1,000 organizations that had attended the project’s plays, only fifteen were political organizations, and these represented all
the strength, the patience, and the underlying wisdom of its people when they are called upon to face a crisis and are given the means to overcome it. That story starts in a country that was on its knees. PART I IN EXTREMIS The cure for unemployment is to find jobs. —HERBERT HOOVER, DECEMBER 5, 1929 Oh, why don’t you work Like other men do? How the hell can I work When there’s no work to do? —“HALLELUJAH, I’M A BUM,” ANONYMOUS 1. THE END OF JOBS In 1932, the United
Brainstorm,” Borderlands, Spring 1994, vol. 12:5, online at www.epcc.edu/nwlibrary/borderlands/12_alphabet_agencies.htm. Mt. Hood ski lodge: Griffith and Munro. Ft. Myers yacht marina: Ft. Myers (Fla.) News-Press, Nov. 29, 1936, 1. Hutchinson, Kans., golf course: www.pasturegolf.com/archive/wpa_courses.htm. Idaho Falls airport: Falls Airport Historic District Web site: www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/aviation/ida.htm. William Webb and the University of Kentucky plans and ultimate use of WPA labor
assembled from lists of unemployed black stagehands ripped the old theater down to its healthy bones and had it ready for audiences by the beginning of December. Once he was sure the theater was going to be ready, Houseman faced creative choices. McClendon was fighting what would ultimately be a losing battle with cancer, and her frequent absences left him to decide what plays the 750-member troupe should mount. It ranged from a core of non-relief professionals—actors, technicians, and