April 8, 1935 is a day genealogists should celebrate

It might be one of these projects that encourages us to celebrate:

  • An index of state level birth and death records
  • That newspaper card index in the local history room
  • The newspaper clippings file at the county historical society
  • Indexes and transcriptions of old probate records, naturalizations, county commissioner minutes
  • List of burials in many cemeteries
  • Or one of hundreds of other record indexes, abstracts, or other compilations

These are all the result of the Historical Records Survey (HRS) that was organized in 1935 under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s monumental post-depression program to help get the United States and its citizens back on firmer financial ground. On April 8, 1935  the Work Projects Administration (WPA) emerged under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act. Many work projects are still visible today, such as park buildings, bridges, schools, murals in courthouses and post offices, sidewalks and many others. Look up some of the programs that began under President Roosevelt’s New Deal efforts: PWA, CCC, NYA, TVA, FDIC, Social Security, WPA, FERA.

The HRS is but one arm of the WPA. All the work done to create those indexes, abstracts, and even inventories of records found in courthouses still assist genealogists today.

How neat that today is the anniversary of the WPA as I was adding some new images to my WPA lecture. I have lectured for about 25 years on the topic and what it yielded for our research. That lecture was first accompanied by overhead transparencies. Later it was converted to a PowerPoint presentation. It is continually being updated as new WPA materials are discovered, more are digitized, and as more repositories realize the value in the Historical Records Survey and its products.  This is one of my most requested and favorite presentations.

Try typing Historical Records Survey, WPA, Works Progress Administration (1935-1939), Work Projects Administration (1939-19420, or New Deal into any library catalog or WorldCat.org and be prepared to be amazed at all the printed projects.

 

 

© 2016, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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