Works Progress Administration
|Formed||April 8, 1935|
|Preceding Agency||Federal Emergency Relief Administration|
|Dissolved||June 30, 1943|
|Employees||3.3 million in 1938 (peak). Provided almost 8 million jobs between 1935 and 1943|
|Annual budget||$1.4 billion (1935)|
|Key document||Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935|
The Works Progress Administration (renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA) was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. In a much smaller but more famous project, the Federal Project Number One, the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects.
Almost every community in the United States had a new park, bridge or school constructed by the agency. The WPA's initial appropriation in 1935 was for $4.9 billion (about 6.7 percent of the 1935 GDP), and in total it spent $13.4 billion.
At its peak in 1938, it provided paid jobs for three million unemployed men and women, as well as youth in a separate division, the National Youth Administration. Headed by Harry Hopkins, the WPA provided jobs and income to the unemployed during the Great Depression in the United States. Between 1935 and 1943, the WPA provided almost eight million jobs. Full employment, which was reached in 1942 and emerged as a long-term national goal around 1944, was not the WPA's goal. It tried to provide one paid job for all families in which the breadwinner suffered long-term unemployment. Robert D. Leighninger asserts that "The stated goal of public building programs was to end the depression or, at least, alleviate its worst effects. Millions of people needed subsistence incomes. Work relief was preferred over public assistance (the dole) because it maintained self-respect, reinforced the work ethic, and kept skills sharp."
The WPA was a national program that operated its own projects in cooperation with state and local governments, which provided 10–30% of the costs. Usually the local sponsor provided land and often trucks and supplies, with the WPA responsible for wages (and for the salaries of supervisors, who were not on relief). WPA sometimes took over state and local relief programs that had originated in the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) or Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) programs.
It was liquidated on June 30, 1943, as a result of low unemployment due to the worker shortage of World War II. The WPA had provided millions of Americans with jobs for 8 years. Most people who needed a job were eligible for at least some of its positions. Hourly wages were typically set to the prevailing wages in each area.
- 1 Enacting the WPA
- 2 Employment
- 3 Projects funded
- 4 Federal Project No. 1
- 5 Relief for African Americans
- 6 Women
- 7 Criticism
- 8 Evolution, Termination, and Legacy
- 9 Popular Culture
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
Enacting the WPA
Created by the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the WPA was established with the passage of the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935 by the United States Congress and was largely shaped by Harry Hopkins, close adviser to President Roosevelt. The WPA was initially intended to be an extension of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration work program, which funded projects run by states and cities. Many were for infrastructure, such as bridges, roads and parks, but they also included archeological excavations of significant sites, the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), and other historic preservation activities. Both Roosevelt and Hopkins believed that the route to economic recovery and the lessened importance of "the dole" would be in employment programs such as the WPA.
Nick Taylor states that "These ordinary men and women proved to be extraordinary beyond all expectation. They were golden threads woven in national fabric. In this, they shamed the political philosophy that discounted their value and rewarded the one that placed its faith in them, thus fulfilling the founding vision of a government by and for its people. All its people."
The goal of the WPA was to employ most of the unemployed people on relief until the economy recovered. Harry Hopkins testified to Congress in January 1935 why he set the number at 3.5 million, using Federal Emergency Relief Administration data. Estimating costs at $1200 per worker per year, he asked for and received $4 billion. Many women were employed, but they were few compared to men.
In 1935 there were 20 million people on relief in the United States. Of these, 8.3 million were children under sixteen years of age; 3.8 million were persons who, though between the ages of sixteen and sixty-five were not working nor seeking work. These included housewives, students in school, and incapacitated persons. Another 750,000 were persons sixty-five years of age or over. Thus, of the total of 20 million persons then receiving relief, 13 million were not considered eligible for employment. This left a total of 7 million presumably employable persons between the ages of sixteen and sixty-five inclusive. Of these, however, 1.65 million were said to be farm operators or persons who had some non-relief employment, while another 350,000 were, despite the fact that they were already employed or seeking work, considered incapacitated. Deducting this two million from the total of 7.15 million, there remained 5.15 million persons sixteen to sixty-five years of age, unemployed, looking for work, and able to work.
Because of the assumption that only one worker per family would be permitted to work under the proposed program, this total of 5.15 million was further reduced by 1.6 million—the estimated number of workers who were members of families which included two or more employable persons. Thus, there remained a net total of 3.55 million workers in as many households for whom jobs were to be provided.
The WPA employed a maximum of 3.3 million in November 1938. In order to be eligible for WPA employment, an individual had to be an American citizen who was 18 or older, able-bodied, unemployed, and certified as in need by a local public relief agency approved by the WPA. The WPA Division of Employment selected the worker's placement to WPA projects based on previous experience or training. Worker pay was based on three factors: the region of the country, the degree of urbanization, and the individual's skill. It varied from $19/month to $94/month with the average wage being about $52.50. The goal was to pay the local prevailing wage, but limit the hours of work to 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week; the stated minimum being 30 hours a week, or 120 hours a month.
The WPA built traditional infrastructure of the New Deal such as roads, bridges, schools, courthouses, hospitals, sidewalks, waterworks, and post-offices, but also constructed museums, swimming pools, parks, community centers, playgrounds, coliseums, markets, fairgrounds, tennis courts, zoos, botanical gardens, auditoriums, waterfronts, city halls, gyms, and university unions. Most of these are still in use today. The amount of infrastructure projects of the WPA included 40,000 new and 85,000 improved buildings. These new buildings included 5,900 new schools; 9,300 new auditoriums, gyms, and recreational buildings; 1,000 new libraries; 7,000 new dormitories; and 900 new armories. In addition, infrastructure projects included 2,302 stadiums, grandstands, and bleachers; 52 fairgrounds and rodeo grounds; 1,686 parks covering 75,152 acres; 3,185 playgrounds; 3,026 athletic fields; 805 swimming pools; 1,817 handball courts; 10,070 tennis courts; 2,261 horseshoe pits; 1,101 ice-skating areas; 138 outdoor theatres; 254 golf courses; and 65 ski jumps. Total expenditures on WPA projects through June 1941, totaled approximately $11.4 billion. Over $4 billion was spent on highway, road, and street projects; more than $1 billion on public buildings, including the iconic Dock Street Theater in Charleston, the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, and the Timberline Lodge on Oregon's Mt. Hood.
More than $1 billion was spent on publicly owned or operated utilities; and another $1 billion on welfare projects, including sewing projects for women, the distribution of surplus commodities, and school lunch projects. One construction project was the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut, the bridges of which were each designed as architecturally unique. In its eight-year run, the WPA built 325 firehouses and renovated 2,384 of them across the United States. The 20,000 miles of water mains, installed by their hand as well, contributed to increased fire protection across the country.
The direct focus of the WPA projects changed with need. In 1935 priority projects were to improve infrastructure; roads, extension of electricity to rural areas, water conservation, sanitation and flood control. In 1936, as outlined in that year’s Emergency Relief Appropriations Act, public facilities became a focus; parks and associated facilities, public buildings, utilities, airports, and transportation projects were funded. The following year, saw the introduction of agricultural improvements, such as the production of marl fertilizer and the eradication of fungus pests. As the Second World War approached, and then eventually began, WPA projects became increasingly defense related.
One project of the WPA was funding state-level library service demonstration projects, which was intended to create new areas of library service to underserved populations and to extend rural service. Another project was the Household Service Demonstration Project, which trained 30,000 women for domestic employment. South Carolina had one of the larger state-wide library service demonstration projects. At the end of the project in 1943, South Carolina had twelve publicly funded county libraries, one regional library, and a funded state library agency.
Wyandotte County Lake, in Kansas City, Kansas was a part of the New Deal Act proposed by President Roosevelt. The construction of the lake was a way to employ residents while providing a method of water conservation for Wyandotte County. Construction on the lake started in 1936 and it was not fully complete until 1943. The WPA was hesitant to approve the project; in March, Frank Holcomb, Chairman of the County Commissioners, was opposed to any major additional expenses. However, as negotiations cleared the way, some work was restarted in the summer of 1938 on shop buildings, etc.
Federal Project No. 1
1940 WPA poster using Little Miss Muffet to promote reading among children.
Poster for the WPA shows various items that can be purchased at the 5 & 10¢ store.
A significant aspect of the Works Progress Administration was the Federal Project Number One, which had five different parts: the Federal Art Project, the Federal Music Project, the Federal Theatre Project, the Federal Writers Project, and the Historical Records Survey. The government wanted to provide new federal cultural support instead of just providing direct grants to private institutions. After only one year, over 40,000 artists and other talented workers had been employed through this project in the United States. Cedric Larson stated that "The impact made by the five major cultural projects of the WPA upon the national consciousness is probably greater in toto than anyone readily realizes. As channels of communication between the administration and the country at large, both directly and indirectly, the importance of these projects cannot be overestimated, for they all carry a tremendous appeal to the eye, the ear, or the intellect—or all three."
Federal Art Project
This project was directed by Holger Cahill and in 1936, the peak for employment in this federal project, the Federal Art Project employed over 5,300 artists. The Arts Service Division created illustrations and posters for the WPA writers, musicians, and theaters. The Exhibition Division had public exhibitions of artwork from the WPA, and artists from the Art Teaching Division were employed in settlement houses and community centers to give classes to an estimated 50,000 children and adults. They set up over 100 art centers around the country that served an estimated eight million individuals. A few famous WPA artists include Philip Guston, Moses Soyer, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Jacob Lawrence, Ben Shahn, Ivan Albright, Marsden Hartley, Philip Evergood, Mark Tobey, Ralph Stackpole, Bernard Zakheim, John Bloom (husband of Isabel Bloom), and Grant Wood
Federal Music Project
This project was directed by the former conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra, Nikolai Sokoloff, and employed over 16,000 musicians at its peak. Its purpose was to establish different ensembles such as chamber groups, orchestras, choral units, opera units, concert bands, military bands, dance bands, and theater orchestras that gave an estimated 131,000 performances and programs to 92 million people each week. The FMP performed plays and dances, as well as radio dramas. In addition, the FPM gave music classes to an estimated 132,000 children and adults every week, recorded folk music, served as copyists, arrangers, and librarians to expand the availability of music, and experimented in music therapy. Dr. Sokoloff stated that "Music can serve no useful purpose unless it is heard, but these totals on the listeners’ side are more eloquent than statistics as they show that in this country there is a great hunger and eagerness for music."
Federal Theatre Project
This project was directed by Iowan Hallie Flanagan, and employed 12,700 performers at its peak. These performers presented more than 1,000 performances each month to almost one million people, produced 1,200 plays in the four years it was established, and introduced 100 new playwrights. Many performers later became successful in Hollywood including Orson Welles, John Houseman, Burt Lancaster, Joseph Cotten, Canada Lee, Will Geer, Joseph Losey, Virgil Thompson, Nicholas Ray, E.G. Marshall and Sidney Lumet. The Federal Theatre Project was the first project to end in June 1939 after four years from an end of funding from the federal government.
Federal Writers' Project
This project was directed by Henry Alsberg and employed 6,686 writers at its peak in 1936. By January 1939, more than 275 major books and booklets had been published by the FWP. Most famously, the FWP created the American Guide Series, which produced thorough guidebooks for every state that include descriptions of towns, waterways, historic sites, oral histories, photographs, and artwork. An association or group that put up the cost of publication sponsored each book, the cost was anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. In almost all cases, the book sales were able to reimburse their sponsors. Additionally, another important part of this project was to record oral histories to create archives such as the Slave Narratives and collections of folklore. These writers also participated in research and editorial services to other government agencies.
Historical Records Survey
This project was the smallest of Federal Project Number One and served to identify, collect, and conserve United States’ historical records. It is one of the biggest bibliographical efforts and was directed by Dr. Luther H. Evans. At its peak, this project employed more than 4,400 workers.
Relief for African Americans
The share of Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and WPA benefits for African Americans exceeded their proportion of the general population. The FERA's first relief census reported that more than two million African Americans were on relief during early 1933, a proportion of the African-American population (17.8%) that was nearly double the proportion of whites on relief (9.5%). This was during the period of Jim Crow and racial segregation in the South, when blacks were largely disenfranchised.
By 1935, there were 3,500,000 African Americans (men, women and children) on relief, almost 35 percent of the African-American population; plus another 250,000 African-American adults were working on WPA projects. Altogether during 1938, about 45 percent of the nation's African-American families were either on relief or were employed by the WPA.
Civil rights leaders initially objected that African Americans were proportionally underrepresented. African American leaders made such a claim with respect to WPA hires in New Jersey: "In spite of the fact that Blacks indubitably constitute more than 20 percent of the State's unemployed, they composed 15.9% of those assigned to W.P.A. jobs during 1937." Nationwide in 1940, 9.8% of the population were African American.
However, by 1941, the perception of discrimination against African Americans had changed to the point that the NAACP magazine Opportunity hailed the WPA, saying:
It is to the eternal credit of the administrative officers of the WPA that discrimination on various projects because of race has been kept to a minimum and that in almost every community Negroes have been given a chance to participate in the work program. In the South, as might have been expected, this participation has been limited, and differential wages on the basis of race have been more or less effectively established; but in the northern communities, particularly in the urban centers, the Negro has been afforded his first real opportunity for employment in white-collar occupations.
About 15% of the household heads on relief were women and youth programs were operated separately by the National Youth Administration (the NYA). The average worker was about 40 years old (about the same as the average family head on relief).
WPA policies were consistent with the strong belief of the time that husbands and wives should not both be working (because the second person working would take one job away from some other breadwinner). A study of 2,000 female workers in Philadelphia showed that 90% were married, but wives were reported as living with their husbands in only 18 percent of the cases. Only 2 percent of the husbands had private employment. Of the 2000 women, all were responsible for one to five additional people in the household.
In rural Missouri, 60% of the WPA-employed women were without husbands (12% were single; 25% widowed; and 23% divorced, separated or deserted). Thus, only 40% were married and living with their husbands, but 59% of the husbands were permanently disabled, 17% were temporarily disabled, 13% were too old to work, and remaining 10% were either unemployed or handicapped. Most of the women worked with sewing projects, where they were taught to use sewing machines and made clothing and bedding, as well as supplies for hospitals, orphanages, and adoption centers.
The WPA had numerous critics, especially from the right. The strongest attacks were that it was the prelude for a national political machine on behalf of Roosevelt. Reformers secured the Hatch Act of 1939 that largely depoliticized the WPA.
Others complained that far left elements played a major role, especially in the New York City unit (which was independent of the New York State unit). Representative Martin Dies, Jr. called the WPA a "seedbed for communists". Representative J. Parnell Thomas of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) claimed in 1938 that divisions of the WPA were a "hotbed of Communists" and "one more link in the vast and unparalleled New Deal propaganda network."
Much of the criticism of the distribution of projects and funding allotment is a result of the view that the decisions were politically motivated. The South, as the poorest region of the United States, received 75 percent less in federal relief and public works funds per capita than the West. Critics would point to the fact that Roosevelt’s Democrats could be sure of voting support from the South, whereas the West was less of a sure thing; swing states took priority over the other states.
There was a perception that WPA employees were not diligent workers, and that they had little incentive to give up their busy work in favor of productive jobs. Employers said the "WPA is bad for people since it gives them poor work habits. They believe that even if a man is not an inefficient worker to begin with, he gets that way from being on WPA." Having been on the WPA made it harder for alumni to get a job because employers said they had "formed poor work habits" on the WPA.
A Senate committee reported that, "To some extent the complaint that WPA workers do poor work is not without foundation. ... Poor work habits and incorrect techniques are not remedied. Occasionally a supervisor or a foreman demands good work." The WPA and its workers were ridiculed as being lazy. The organization's initials were said to stand for "We Poke Along" or "We Putter Along" or "We piddle around" or "Whistle, Piss and Argue." These were sarcastic references to WPA projects that sometimes slowed down deliberately because foremen had an incentive to keep going, rather than finish a project.
New Deal officials reportedly took measures to prevent political corruption. In particular President Roosevelt created a "division of progress investigation" to investigate complaints of malfeasance.
Evolution, Termination, and Legacy
When Harry Hopkins became the Secretary of Commerce, Colonel Francis Harrington became director of the project and the WPA was renamed from the "Works Progress Administration" to the "Works Projects Administration." As the projects became more subject to the state, local sponsors were called on to provide 25% of project costs. As the projects slowly diminished due to lack of funding, they became more dedicated to work that related directly to the war effort: "[The WPA] diverted resources from domestic construction to overseas destruction." Unemployment ended with war production for World War II, as millions of men joined the services, and cost-plus contracts made it attractive for companies to hire unemployed men and train them. With the mass-employment need essentially gone, Congress terminated the WPA in late 1943.
In regarding the Works Progress Administration's legacy, Robert Leighninger asserts that "The agencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt administration had an enormous and largely unrecognized role in defining the public space we now use. In a short period of ten years, the Public Works Administration, the Works Progress Administration, and the Civilian Conservation Corps built facilities in practically every community in the country. Most are still providing service half a century later. It is time we recognized this legacy and attempted to comprehend its relationship to our contemporary situation."
Other references to the WPA in popular culture include:
- "WPA Blues", a 1937 song by Casey Bill Weldon, also recorded by Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter: "Everybody's working in this town/ And it's worrying me night and day/If that means working too/ Have to work for the WPA".
- "W.P.A.", a 1939 song recorded by Louis Armstrong and The Mills Brothers: "Sleep while you work, while you rest, while you play / Lean on your shovel to pass the time away".
- Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird noted a typical comment. Bob Ewell, the resident slacker of Maycomb County, is described as "the only person fired from the WPA for laziness." She also wrote: "If he held his mouth right, Mr. Cunningham could get a WPA job, but his land would go to ruin if he left it, and he was willing to go hungry to keep his land and vote as he pleased."
- "I'm Still Here", a song from Stephen Sondheim's 1971 musical, Follies: "I've slept in shanties, guest of the WPA, and I'm here."
- The American web television drama series House of Cards includes references to the New Deal and the WPA in the third season,[episode needed] where the main character, Frank Underwood, proposes a bill called America Works (AmWorks) that is heavily based on the WPA.
- Cross Canadian Ragweed mentioned the WPA in a song called "In Oklahoma" on their 2007 album Mission California.
- American Guide Series
- Civil Works Administration
- Civilian Conservation Corps
- Federal Art Project
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- Federal Project Number One
- Hatch Act of 1939
- List of locks and dams of the Upper Mississippi River
- List of Works Progress Administration artists
- National Recovery Administration
- New Deal
- Public Works of Art Project
- Section of Painting and Sculpture
- Eric Arnesen, ed. Encyclopedia of U.S. Labor and Working-Class History (2007) vol. 1 p. 1540
- Jason Scott Smith, Building New Deal Liberalism: The Political Economy of Public Works, 1933–1956 (2006) p. 87
- "WPA Archives". Colorado.gov. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- Robert D. Leighninger Jr., Long-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2007), 64, 184.
- Leighninger, Robert D. "Cultural Infrastructure: The Legacy of New Deal Public Space." Journal of Architectural Education 49, no. 4 (1996).
- D. Leighninger Jr., Long-Range Public Investment p. 63
- Leighninger Jr., Long-Range Public Investment p. 71.
- "NewDeal.Feri.org". NewDeal.Feri.org. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- Bradford A. Lee, "The New Deal Reconsidered," The Wilson Quarterly 6 (1982): 70.
- Robert D. Leighninger Jr., Long-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal, (2007), 56.
- Leighninger Jr., Long-Range Public Investment, 57.
- Nick Taylor, American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA, When FDR Put the Nation to Work (New York: Bantam Books, 2008).
- Howard, p 562, paraphrasing Hopkins
- Nancy Rose, The WPA and Public Employment in the Great Depression (2009)
- "WPA Employment." Gjenvick Archives: The Future of Our Past, Social and Cultural History. (2000)
- Donald S. Howard, The WPA and Federal Relief Policy (New York: Da Capo Press, 1943), 213.
- Leighninger, Robert D. "Cultural Infrastructure: The Legacy of New Deal Public Space." Journal of Architectural Education 49, no. 4 (1996): 226–236.
- Kennedy, David (1999). Freedom From Fear, pp. 252–253, Oxford University Press, USA
- [Howard 129]
- "Website on Merritt Parkway Bridges". Past-inc.org. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- Leighninger Jr., Long-Range Public Investment, 69.
- Leighninger Jr., Long-Range Public Investment, 70.
- "WPA and Rural Libraries". Newdeal.feri.org. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- "Blazing the Way: The WPA Library Service Demonstration Project in South Carolina by Robert M. Gorman" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- Adams, Don and Arlene Goldbard. "New Deal Cultural Programs: Experiments in Cultural Democracy." Webster's World of Cultural Democracy. (1995).
- Larson, Cedric. "The Cultural Projects of the WPA." The Public Opinion Quarterly 3, no. 3 (1939).
- Raine, Kristy. "John Vincent Bloom." Mount Mercy University. (2003)
- "Iowa New Deal Art." WPA Murals. http://www.wpamurals.com/iowa.htm.
- Larson, Cedric. "The Cultural Projects of the WPA." The Public Opinion Quarterly 3, no. 3 (1939): 494.
- John Salmond, "The New Deal and the Negro" in John Braeman et al., eds. The New Deal: The National Level (1975). pp 188–89
- [Howard 287]
- February, 1939, p. 34. in Howard 295
- Howard, The WPA and Federal Relief Policy p 283
- Howard, p 283
- Alexander Keyssar, The right to vote: the contested history of democracy in the United States (2000) p 193
- Nick Taylor, American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA, When FDR Put the Nation to Work (New York: Bantam Books, 2008), 2.
- Lee, "The New Deal Reconsidered", 70.
- Ginzberg, p. 447
- Wood, p. 61
- Report of investigation of public relief in the District of Columbia (U.S. Senate), (1938)
- David A. Taylor, Soul of a people: the WPA Writer's Project uncovers Depression America (2009) p 12
- Krugman, Paul, The Conscience of a Liberal, W W Norton & Company, 2007 p.62
- Leighninger, Robert D. "Cultural Infrastructure: The Legacy of New Deal Public Space." Journal of Architectural Education 49, no. 4 (1996): 227.
- Taylor, Nick. American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work (2008)
- "Cross Canadian Ragweed - In Oklahoma Lyrics". Songlyrics.com. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
- Adams, Don and Arlene Goldbard. "New Deal Cultural Programs: Experiments in Cultural Democracy." Webster's World of Cultural Democracy. Last Modified 1995.
- Ginzberg, Eli. "The unemployed". New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2004
- Hopkins, June. "The Road Not Taken: Harry Hopkins and New Deal Work Relief" Presidential Studies Quarterly Vol. 29, (1999)
- Howard; Donald S. The WPA and Federal Relief Policy (1943), detailed analysis of all major WPA programs.
- "Iowa New Deal Art." WPA Murals. http://www.wpamurals.com/iowa.htm.
- Larson, Cedric. "The Cultural Projects of the WPA." The Public Opinion Quarterly 3, no. 3 (1939): 491–196. Accessed February 15, 2014, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2744973.
- Leighninger, Robert D. "Cultural Infrastructure: The Legacy of New Deal Public Space." Journal of Architectural Education 49, no. 4 (1996): 226–236. Accessed February 15, 2014, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1425295.
- Leighninger, Robert D., Jr. Long-Range Public Investment: the Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press (2007), Providing a Context for American Public Works Programs, and Detailing Major Agencies of the New Deal: CCC, PWA, CWA, WPA, and TVA.
- Lindley, Betty Grimes & Lindley, Ernest K. A New Deal for Youth: the Story of the National Youth Administration (1938)
- McJimsey George T. Harry Hopkins: Ally of the Poor and Defender of Democracy (1987)
- Meriam; Lewis. Relief and Social Security. 900 pp. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 1946.
- Millett; John D. & Gladys Ogden. Administration of Federal Work Relief 1941.
- Rose, Nancy. The WPA and Public Employment in the Great Depression (2009)
- Sargent, James E. "Woodrum's Economy Bloc: The Attack on Roosevelt's WPA, 1937-1939." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (1985): 175-207. in JSTOR
- Singleton, Jeff. The American Dole: Unemployment Relief and the Welfare State in the Great Depression (2000)
- Smith, Jason Scott. Building New Deal Liberalism: the Political Economy of Public Works, 1933–1956 (2005)
- Taylor, David A. Soul of a People: The WPA Writers' Project Uncovers Depression America. (2009)
- Taylor, Nick. American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work (2008)
- United States Senate. "Report of investigation of public relief in the District of Columbia". Washington D.C.: 1938
- Williams, Edward Ainsworth. Federal aid for relief (1939)
- Wood, Margeret Mary. "Paths of loneliness: the individual isolated in modern society". New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, 1953
- Young, William H., & Nancy K. The Great Depression in America: a Cultural Encyclopedia. 2 vols. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007 ISBN 0-313-33520-6
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Works Progress Administration.|
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- John C. Kennedy Papers. 1912-1938. 5" linear (circa 80 items).
- Footage of the Federal Theatre Project's 1936 "Voodoo Macbeth" – with informative annotations.
- The Great Depression in Washington State Project, including an illustrated map of major WPA projects and a multimedia history of the Federal Theater Project in the State.
- The Index of American Design at the National Gallery of Art
- Works by Work Projects Administration at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Works Progress Administration at Internet Archive
- Works by Works Progress Administration at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Guide to the WPA Oregon Federal Art Project collection at the University of Oregon
- WPA Radio Scripts, 1936–1940, held by the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
- WPA inspired Gulf Coast Civic Works Project
- An Introduction to the Employer of Last Resort Proposal from Dollars & Sense. Includes several images from the original WPA.
- Living New Deal Project – The Living New Deal Project documents the living legacy of New Deal agencies, including the WPA. The Living New Deal website includes an extensive digital map featuring detailed information about specific WPA projects by location.
- New Deal Agencies: The Works Progress Administration
- Soul of a People documentary on Smithsonian Networks
- Works Progress Administration Tampa Office Records at the University of South Florida
- Arizona Archives Online Finding Aid – The Arizona State Museum Library & Archives holds the records of the WPA Statewide Archaeological Project (1938–1940) and are found on AAO.
- WPA Art Inventory Project at the Connecticut State Library
- WPA Omaha, Nebraska City Guide Project by the University of Nebraska Omaha Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library.
Libraries and the WPA:
- The WPA Library Project in South Carolina
- South Carolina Public Library History, 1930–1945
- WPA Children’s Books (1935–1943) Broward County Library’s Bienes Museum of the Modern Book
- Database of WPA murals
- WPA-FAP Mural Division in NYC, and restoration of murals at the Williamsburg Houses and Hospital for Chronic Diseases on Welfare Island
- WPA mural projects by noted muralist Sr. Lucia Wiley
- WPA Artist Louis Schanker
- WPA Artist Robert Tabor