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New Deal Programs: Selected Library of Congress Resources

New Deal Programs: Selected Library of Congress Resources was created to serve as a starting point for research using Library of Congress collections of New Deal program materials. While this guide is by no means comprehensive, it provides an overview of special collections held by the Library of Congress and links to digitized materials and selected resources relating to New Deal programs in Library of Congress divisions. The guide also links to major collections of New Deal program materials held at other institutions.

Researchers are encouraged to contact individual divisions directly for further assistance with these materials.

"The New Deal" refers to a series of domestic programs (lasting roughly 1933-39) implemented during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to combat the effects of the Great Depression on the U.S. economy. In addition to certain key economic programs, several of the most prominent New Deal initiatives focused on providing work relief to unemployed workers from all segments of U.S. society--from unskilled laborers to highly skilled artists and technicians.

The Work Projects Administration (1935-43; known 1935-39 as the Works Progress Administration) was the coordinating agency for many of these activities. The WPA was a large and complex organization and its programs were often coordinated at many different levels--by the Federal government and to varying degrees by state, regional, and local entities. The Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43, produced by the Federal Works Agency in 1947, provides a useful summary of WPA activities over the course of its existence.

The Library of Congress holds significant collections of materials produced by WPA cultural projects. Four major cultural projects were initiated in the early years of the WPA, in 1935, and these were known collectively as Federal One. These included the Federal Art Project (1935-43), the Federal Theatre Project (1935-39), the Federal Music Project (1935-39, succeeded by the WPA Music Program, 1939-43) and the Federal Writers' Project (1935-39, with some activity continuing at the state level until 1943). In many cases, corresponding administrative records for these projects are held by the National Archives and Records Administration in Records of the Work Projects Administration [WPA] (Record Group 69) or by state or local institutions.

The Library also holds significant collections of materials from non-WPA programs such as the Farm Security Administration -- Office of War Information Photographs, the Historic American Buildings Survey / Historic American Engineering Record, and Resettlement Administration and Farm Security Administration field recordings and related documentation in the collections of the American Folklife Center.

New Deal Programs: Selected Library of Congress Resources was prepared in conjunction with the Library of Congress symposium Art, Culture, and Government: The New Deal at 75 (March 13-14, 2008).

Please send any corrections, additions, suggestions, and comments to the Digital Reference Section.

Compiled by Laura Gottesman, Digital Reference Specialist

Sections and Topics:

Library of Congress Online Resources

Resources by New Deal Program

Work Projects Administration (WPA) Cultural Projects

Resources by Library of Congress Division

Other Resources

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  July 30, 2010
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