The Federal Writers’ Project (general)
Mangione, Jerre. The Dream and the Deal: the Federal Writers’ Project, 1935-1943. Boston: Little, Brown, 1972.
Mangione, a key member of the FWP, interviewed fellow workers and other WPA staff in this excellent account of the program.
Selvaggio, Marc S., compiler. American Guide Series: Works by the Federal Writers’ Project. Pittsburgh, Pa: Schoyer’s Books, 1990.
A unique book dealer’s catalogue of WPA material mostly from the impressive collection of Arthur Scharf, WPA collector and bookseller. There are nearly 900 entries of the FWP and other Federal One” and “New Deal” publications in various editions, with prices and annotations.
Taylor, David A. Soul of a People. The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2009.
“David Taylor has added a perfect chapter to the amazing saga of the Federal Writers’ Project with vivid portraits of some of the men and women who produced the American Guide Series, an unmatched collective portrait of a people battered but not beaten by the Great Depression. Soul of a People should be mandatory reading as the storm clouds of hard times hover over us again” —Bernard Weisberger, editor. The WPA Guide to America.
New York FWP Publications
A wide range of publications were planned and in some cases started (The Jews of New York, The Negroes in New York, The Architecture of New York, The Folklore of the Metropolis) but never completed because federal funding ran out in 1939 as priorities switched to the looming war. Fortunately, the records from these projects still exist and they are often mined for new studies and books.
Almanac for New Yorkers for various years
Changing New York, Abbott’s photograph’s taken the thirties showing the contrasts of the old and the new, was published in 1939 as part of the Federal Arts Project.
The Italians of New York, 1938
Jewish Families and Family Circles of New York. Futuro Press: 1939, 206pp. Sponsored by the Yiddish Writers Union. In Yiddish.
The Jewish Landsmanschaften of New York. By I.L. Peretz. Yiddish Writers’ Union: 1938. Contents and Directory in English, Text In Yiddish.
The Negro in New York. An Informal Social History was published in 1967, from interviews taken during the program, edited by Roy Ottley and William J. Weatherby. New York: New York Public Library and Oceana Pub: 1967.
New York City Panorama. A Comprehensive View of the Metropolis, Presented in a Series of Articles Prepared by the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration in New York City. New York: Random House, 1938.
Includes a chapter on the forthcoming 1939 New York World’s Fair. 26 essays excellent essays provide a close-up of the attitudes and culture of the l930s overseen by foremost experts in fields – like Lewis Mumford (architectural critic), Brooks Atkinson (theater critic for the New York Times), and Alfred Barr, (Director of the Museum of Modern Art).
The WPA Guide to New York City. The Federal Writers’ Project Guide to 1930s New York. A Comprehensive Guide to the Five Boroughs of the Metropolis.
Generously illustrated with photographs and maps. The first edition included a chapter on the forthcoming 1939 New York World’s Fair in Queens with an orange/blue World’s Fair design book jacket; 2nd. With an extensive bibliography of New York books. Intro by William Whyte, the large folding map in back of original edition not present. Pantheon reprint, 1982. Many of the photographs are from Berenice Abbott’s photographs and there were prints.
Municipal Archives of New York City
The Federal Writers’ Project was organized in the autumn of 1935 to utilize the skills of the so-called ‘white collar’ unemployed. The New York City Unit was particularly prolific. The Municipal Archives holds records created for forty-one book projects, some one never published. Among the published works were The New York City Guide, New York Panorama, and assorted studies including The Italians of New York (in both Italian and English), The Film Index: A Bibliography, The Jewish Landsmanschaften of New York (in Yiddish), Jewish Families and Family Circles of New York (in Yiddish), and A Maritime History of New York.
With assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the entire manuscript records of the WPA writer’s Project were microfilmed. Over the course of the project, a folder-level inventory was created. The Church record survey of the WPA Historical Records Survey has also been microfilmed. The related photograph collection has also been microfilmed.
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940
The Library of Congress collection includes 2,900 documents representing the work of over 300 writers from 24 states. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents consist of drafts and revisions, varying in form from narrative to dialogue to report to case history. The histories describe the informant’s family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations. Pseudonyms are often substituted for individuals and places named in the narrative.
The New Deal Network
In keeping with its search for fresh approaches to educating students and the public about the Roosevelt era and its legacy, the Roosevelt Institute created the New Deal Network, a research and teaching resource devoted to the public works and arts projects of the New Deal.
Voices from the Thirties: An Introduction to the WPA Life Histories Collection
These life histories were compiled and transcribed by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers’ Project for the WPA from 1936-1940.