Learn More About The WPA (Works Progress Administration)
                                    Cook County, Illinois


Information contributed for use in Cook County ILGenWeb (from Cook-Co-L mail-list)
        with permission from original submitters

(multiple items in this submission)


The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was established by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt
in 1935.

In 1939, the program was renamed the Works Project Administration under allagations of
mismanagement, and abuse charges of the programs' funds led to a reduction in Congressional
appropriations. Strikes by workers proven unsuccessful. World War II provided many jobs, 
and by 1943 the WPA expired. It was a work program for the unemployed during the Depression. 
The project existed for eight years and employed 8,500,000 people at a cost of $11 billion.

The program had many branches that specialized in the humanities area. 

The Federal Arts Project, the Federal Writers Project, and the Federal Theater Project were 
established to give everybody a way to work.

Workers in the WPA would earn anywhere from $15-$90 a month. The average was $54.33 a month.

Over the years the WPA workers produced 651,000 miles of road, 125,110 public buildings, 
78,000 bridges, 8,000 parks and 800 airports.

The WPA brought many new opportunities to ethnic and minority groups. Many blacks found new
employment. Many women and older children were given jobs also.

The Work Project Administration ended its operation on June 30, 1943, because most of the
unemployment was reduced. Although the WPA gave many wonderful jobs and opportunities to 
many unemployed people, it was still criticized. Some people said it was a waste and that 
there was lack of planning. In the beginning it was also criticized because many people 
thought it was created to get people to join the Democratic Party.

(thanks to Maureen M. for providing this info)


"The most exhaustive attempt to compile a list of available vital records in the U.S. was 
made by the federal government's Works Progress Administration as part of the Historical
Records Survey projects in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Forty states participated in this program.  The participants included all states except 
Alaska (not then a state), Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii (not then a state), Maine, 
Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Vermont.  Each participating state 
published, as a result of the project, inventories or guides to the vital statistics records
available for the various counties, cities, and towns within its boundaries and told where 
and how there were filed.

A "WPA List of Vital Statistical Records" issued in 1943 shows the publications for each
of the participating states."

This info was taken from "The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy" by Val D. Greenwood.

(provided by CookILGW)


for more on-line reading about this topic,

  Go to:
  "The WPA: 60-Year-Old Investment Still Yields High Dividends"
  Ancestry Magazine, May/Jun 1995, Volume 13, Number 3
  by Loretto Dennis Szucs


  Go to:
  "WPA Life Histories About the Federal Writers' Project"
  Go to:
  WPA Life Histories from Illinois


  Go to:
  "THE W.P.A.: 1915-1935"
  Bethany Grade School, Rediscovers the U.S.: 1915-1935

(thanks to Jackie K. for providing this info)

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