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Works Projects Administration

Works Projects Administration



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When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president he put his friend, Harry Hopkins, in charge of the Works Projects Administration (WPA). The purpose of the WPA was to give wages to people currently unemployed. By 1936 over 3.5 million people were employed on various WPA programs. This included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the National Youth Administration (NYA) and the Public Works Administration (PWA) under Harold Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior.

We have two problems: first, to meet the immediate distress; second, to build up on a basis of permanent employment.

As to immediate relief, the first principle is that this nation, this national government, if you like, owes a positive duty that no citizen shall be permitted to starve.

In addition to providing emergency relief, the Federal Government should and must provide temporary work wherever that is possible. You and I know that in the national forests, on flood prevention, and on the development of waterway projects that have already been authorized and planned but not yet executed, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of our unemployed citizens can be given at least temporary employment.

My most immediate concern is in carrying out the purposes of the great work program just enacted by the Congress. Its first objective is to put men and women now on the relief rolls to work and, incidentally, to assist materially in our already unmistakable march toward recovery. I shall not confuse my discussion by a multitude of figures. So many figures are quoted to prove so many things. Sometimes it depends upon what paper you read and what broadcast you hear. Therefore, let us keep our minds on two or three simple, essential facts in connection with this problem of unemployment. It is true that while business and industry are definitely better our relief rolls are still too large. However, for the first time in five years the relief rolls have declined instead of increased during the winter months. They are still declining. The simple fact is that many million more people have private work today than two years ago today or one year ago today, and every day that passes offers more chances to work for those who want to work. In spite of the fact that unemployment remains a serious problem here as in every other nation, we have come to recognize the possibility and the necessity of certain helpful remedial measures. These measures are of two kinds. The first is to make provisions intended to relieve, to minimize, and to prevent future unemployment; the second is to establish the practical means to help those who are unemployed in this present emergency. Our social security legislation is an attempt to answer the first of these questions. Our work relief program the second. The program for social security now pending before the Congress is a necessary part of the future unemployment policy of the government. While our present and projected expenditures for work relief are wholly within the reasonable limits of our national credit resources, it is obvious that we cannot continue to create governmental deficits for that purpose year after year. We must begin now to make provision for the future. That is why our social security program is an important part of the complete picture. It proposes, by means of old age pensions, to help those who have reached the age of retirement to give up their jobs and thus give to the younger generation greater opportunities for work and to give to all a feeling of security as they look toward old age.

The unemployment insurance part of the legislation will not only help to guard the individual in future periods of lay-off against dependence upon relief, but it will, by sustaining purchasing power, cushion the shock of economic distress. Another helpful feature of unemployment insurance is the incentive it will give to employers to plan more carefully in order that unemployment may be prevented by the stabilizing of employment itself.


Perry County, Mississippi Genealogy and History

The Works Projects Administration was established on 6 May 1935. It was one of the many programs enacted by President Roosevelt as part of his "New Deal". Since it was an economic relief program, like the CCC, some of the money earned by WPA employees had to be sent to their families. Each employee was paid from $15.00 to $90.00 per month, depending on the job he or she had. Sometimes their job carried them away from their home area and in those cases the workers also received food and housing.

When the WPA began, it was called the Works Progress Administration, but in 1939 the name was changed to The Works Projects Administration, reflecting the fact that the plan was to create projects that would be useful to the people, make good use of the natural resources, as well as provide jobs during the depression. Many of the workers were unskilled laborers and were accused of being unproductive which resulted in a poor reputation. Part of this seemly idleness was due to the hiring of more workers than was really necessary. Of course, the intent was to hire as many people as funding would allow, easing the burden of the depression, and it was better than providing direct relief with no obligation to provide any service in return! One familiar term used to identify WPA workers was "We Piddle Around".

WPA labor was used by the Resettlement Administration. The Resettlement Administration relocated farmers, who were farming submarginal land, to more fertile and productive land. WPA labor was then used to revitalize the submarginal land.

WPA Labor was also used by the Rural Electrification Administration in extending power lines to farm homes not served by private utility companies.

The WPA was responsible for the National Youth Administration. The National Youth Administration built shelters to house transient young people. It not only provided shelter for homeless youth but also provided job training for sixteen to twenty-five year-olds who had dropped out of school, or graduated but could not find a job, and could not be supported by their families.

The WPA built local canneries in some very poor areas where farm wives could bring their produce and were provided all the equipment, jars, etc to "put up" their fruit and vegetables.

They also built small mattress factories where people could come and were taught how to, and made, their own mattresses with materials furnished by the WPA. Prior to this, the mattresses of many rural families had consisted of ticking stuffed with hay or straw.

Although there are those who feel that the WPA provided no useful service, the facts speak otherwise. By the end of its second year of operation, in 1937, the WPA had:

  • -Constructed 1,634 School Buildings.
  • -Built 105 Air Strips.
  • -Built 3,000 Tennis Courts.
  • -Built 3,300 Dams.
  • -Built 103 Golf Courses.
  • -Established 5,800 Traveling Libraries (bookmobiles).
  • -Built 1,654 Health Clinics.
  • -Built 36,000 Miles of New Rural Roads.
  • -Served 128 million School Lunches.
  • -Made 2 Million Home Nurse Visits.
  • -Put on 1,500 Theatrical Productions.
  • -Constructed 134 Fish Hatcheries.
  • -Transcribed 1.1 Million Pages of Material into Braille.
  • -Conducted 17,000 Literacy Classes Per Month.

In June 1943, the WPA was phased out. In addition to the above very impressive two-year accomplishments, when it was phased out the WPA had also, on the national level:

  • -Constructed 651,087 miles of Highways.
  • -Repaired 124,087 Bridges.
  • -Constructed 125,110 Public Structures.
  • -Established 8,192 Parks.
  • -Constructed a total of 853 AirStrips.
  • -Indexed all Census Records.

The WPA also wrote very helpful guides to most states and counties. Many of these guides are invaluable in researching the history of towns, many of which no longer exist. These guides, such as, The WPA Guide to Mississippi and The WPA Guide to Forrest County, have been used numerous times by the compiler of this paper. Many projects completed by the WPA are used by millions of people every day, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their accomplishments.


WPA: Works Progress Administration/Work Projects Administration: Overview

Works Progress Administration Collection.
The Works Progress Administration papers collection includes information related to the history of Minnesota, administrative files, and a photo and negative collection containing numerous views of WPA projects around the state of Minnesota.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

The WPA G uide to Minnesota
St Paul, MHS Press, 1985, 2002.
MNHS call number: F604.2 W86 200, also available for purchase .

Minnesota W.P.A. in Action , by Carl Lindahl.
MNHS call number: Map 6F G4141.G8 1934 .L5 or Digital Image

American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work , by Nick Taylor.
New York : Bantam Books, 2008.
MNHS call number: HD5724.T34 2008

WPA Public Works Improvements Photograph Collection
Includes views of various public works projects in seventeen Minnesota towns. Projects include road construction, street lighting, water utilities and towers, and sewage treatment plants.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid


Works Progress Administration is created

By 1935 the Depression continued, and unemployment remained above 20 percent. To rejuvenate relief and recovery efforts, Roosevelt pushed through a new wave of economic programs. Among these was the Works Progress Administration, created in May 1935. In terms of the number of people it employed, the money it expended, and the number of projects it undertook, the WPA was the largest work relief program ever attempted. At its peak, the WPA employed thirty thousand administrators and an average of 2.3 million workers each year between 1935 and 1940.

Earlier New Deal work relief programs had largely been left to the states to administer. However, the WPA was to be completely administered by the federal government. Roosevelt appointed Harry Hopkins (1890–1946), his trusted adviser and head of earlier New Deal programs, to lead the WPA. Hopkins was a social worker with years of experience directing relief and work relief programs many of those years were spent working for Roosevelt in the New York state government. So as not to compete with private enterprise, Hopkins kept WPA wages significantly below what similar jobs would pay in the private sector, even though those jobs were unavailable. WPA projects were also carefully chosen so that private businesses would not have to compete with the federal government. WPA regulations required that 90 percent of those hired had to come from existing relief rolls and that only one member of a family could be hired.

Seventy-five percent of WPA enrollees worked on engineering and construction projects. Located in almost every county in the nation, WPA workers were highly productive. They built or repaired 1.2 million miles of culverts (drainage pipes under roads), laid 24,000 miles of sidewalks, built almost 600,000 miles in new roads, repaired 32,000 miles of existing roads, built 75,000 bridges and repaired another 42,000, installed 23,000 miles of storm and sanitary sewers, and constructed 880 sewage disposal plants. They built 6,000 athletic fields and playgrounds, 770 new swimming pools, and 1,700 new parks, fairgrounds, and rodeo grounds. They constructed or repaired 110,000 public libraries, auditoriums, stadiums, and other public buildings and built 5,584 new school buildings. They also served 900 million school lunches and repaired 80 million library books. Within a brief period of time the WPA had significantly improved the nation's infrastructure. (Infrastructure is the basic framework or system of public works in a country, such as roads, power plants, and public buildings.)

Ellen Sullivan Woodward (1887–1971) headed the Women's Division of the WPA and oversaw more than four hundred thousand women workers. Most of these women worked in the WPA's nine thousand sewing centers around the country. Woodward also started training and employment programs in mattress making, bookbinding, domestic service, canning of relief foods, school lunch preparation, and child care.


Among the many relief efforts after the 1929 Depression, WPA Federal Writers' Project workers interviewed everyday people with the aim of publishing anthologies on different aspects of life in America. Two hundred and thirty-three persons were interviewed in Arkansas under this program. The originals of questionnaires used to record information during the interviews are preserved in the University Libraries' Special Collections. Transcriptions of questionnaires from interviews with seventeen African Americans interviewed in Arkansas under this project are represented here.

Background information is available in an article by Andrea Cantrell in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly 63 (Spring 2004).

Similar life history interviews from other states (though none from the Arkansas project) are available online in "American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers Project, 1939-1940," Library of Congress, Manuscripts Division, and in These Are Our Lives (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939) and Such as Us: Southern Voices of the Thirties by Tom E. Terrill and Jerrold Hirsch (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1978).

The personal history interviews are both similar to, and different from, interviews conducted in the WPA Ex-Slave Narratives project. More information about the Ex-Slave Narratives for persons from Arkansas is available in Bearing Witness: Memories of Arkansas Slavery Narratives from the 1930s WPA Collections, edited by George E. Lankford (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2003) and "Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938," Library of Congress, Manuscripts Division.

Transcriptions of the early settlers' personal histories of African Americans interviewed in Arkansas can be reached via the following links:

Oral history transcripts require Adobe Reader. This can be downloaded free of charge.


Works Progress Administration (WPA)

The Works Progress Administration (WPA), later called the Work Projects Administration, was the largest and best known of the federal work relief programs established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to combat unemployment and stimulate a national economy ravaged by the Great Depression. During the eight years of its existence, 8.5 million people nationwide received WPA paychecks totaling nearly $11 billion. In Arkansas, the WPA provided much-needed social services and infrastructure improvements, while its salaries supported thousands of families and the merchants who depended on their business.

The WPA began operations in Arkansas in July 1935. It carried on many of the functions of the earlier Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) while emphasizing work programs to a greater degree than its predecessor. To reduce wasteful expenditures, every project required a local or state sponsor to pay part of the cost. Arkansas retained its former FERA director, William R. Dyess. After Dyess died in a January 1936 accident, one of his deputies, Floyd Sharp, became state administrator and held the post until the agency ceased operations in 1943.

The WPA Services Division provided jobs for people of many vocations within its programs. As part of the Federal Writers Project, former historians, writers, and other professionals researched and wrote Arkansas: A Guide to the State (1941), a compendium of contemporary and historical information on the different regions and largest cities of the state. Meanwhile, other employees interviewed former slaves living in the state for a national oral history project generally known as the Slave Narratives. In fact, Arkansas produced far more (756) of these valuable histories than any other state. Another “white-collar” project, as agency officials termed these projects, was the Historical and Cultural Records Inventory. This enterprise catalogued and indexed many important documents relating to local and state governments and selected private groups.

Most tasks, though, did not require extensive education. The School Lunch Program fed thousands of low-income children. Another initiative was the Commodity Distribution Program, in which WPA workers at state welfare offices handed out donated food and clothing to needy families, as well as supervised an early food stamp system. In still another project, the Adult Education Program sent instructors into white and black communities across the state to teach basic reading, writing, and mathematics. One group of teachers targeted the tenant farmers of eastern Arkansas, providing additional classes in home-related topics, including gardening and proper sanitation.

As important as these services were, the WPA is remembered most for the roads, bridges, and buildings constructed by its Operations Division. Road work accounted for the largest share of the budget. Government workers graded and spread gravel over thousands of miles of rutted dirt highways and streets. Boone County was a typical case. The $750,000 spent there paid for improving 105 miles of county roads and many of the streets in Harrison, the county seat. It also paid for resurfacing state Highway 14 and U.S. 62 through the town and building sidewalks for the business district.

Pulaski County received the most federal money in the state—$13.9 million. Next were Sebastian and Jefferson counties with $7 million and $2.6 million, respectively. Notable projects in or near the capital city included the Arkansas School for the Blind, the Pulaski County Hospital, and extensive improvements at Adams Field (now Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport). Among the hundreds of other construction operations in the state were a 25,000-seat football stadium at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) a stadium at Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N), now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) and armories for Arkansas National Guard units at Harrison and Jonesboro (Craighead County).

In 1939, mounting pressure from conservative Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress to curb relief spending resulted in a Senate report detailing widespread mismanagement and patronage hiring on WPA jobs—much of it at the behest of senators and congressmen. Congress then reduced funding and placed the renamed Work Projects Administration under the oversight of the Federal Works Agency. Irregularities in administration remained ubiquitous, however.

By late 1941, the budgetary demands of preparing for war had forced most programs to end. The effects of these actions were less painful than would have been the case earlier, however, due to the increased employment in private industry caused by defense spending. In June 1943, the WPA closed its books, having expended almost $117 million of federal money in Arkansas, along with $36 million from local and state sponsors.

The following WPA-built properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

County Name of Property
Baxter Baxter County Courthouse
Baxter Buford School
Baxter Horace Mann School Historic District
Boone Everton School
Boone Haggard Ford Swinging Bridge
Carroll Berryville Agriculture Building
Carroll Berryville Gymnasium
Cleburne Old Highway 16 Bridge
Columbia Overstreet Hall – Southern Arkansas University
Conway Menifee High School Gymnasium
Conway Plumerville School Building
Cross South Elementary School
Cross Woman’s Progressive Club
Faulkner Guy High School Gymnasium
Faulkner Guy Home Economics Building
Garland Hot Springs Armory
Grant Oak Grove School
Hempstead Hope Girl Scout Little House
Hot Spring Hot Spring County Courthouse
Independence Cedar Creek Bridge
Izard Boswell School
Jefferson Taylor Field
Johnson Clarksville Home Economics Building
Johnson Clarksville National Guard Armory
Johnson Ozone School
Lafayette Lafayette County Courthouse
Lawrence Smithville Public School Building
Lincoln Lincoln County Courthouse
Logan Cove Creek Bridge
Logan Cove Creek Tributary Bridge
Logan Cove Lake Bathhouse
Logan Cove Lake Spillway Dam/Bridge
Marion Cold Springs School
Marion Eros School Building
Newton Little Buffalo River Bridge
Newton Newton County Courthouse
Perry Camp Ouachita Historic District
Phillips Helena National Guard Armory
Phillips Phillips County Penal Farm Historic District
Pike Rosenwald School
Polk Polk County Courthouse
Pope Fairview School
Pope Hughes Hall – Arkansas Tech University
Pope Riggs-Hamilton American Legion Post 20 Legion Hut
Prairie Prairie County Courthouse, Southern District
Pulaski Fair Park Golf Course structures
Pulaski Lamar Porter Athletic Field
Randolph Old Pocahontas Post Office
Randolph Randolph County Courthouse
Scott Old Scott County Courthouse
Scott Old Scott County Jail
Scott Parks School House
Scott Waldron School Historic District
Sebastian Coop Creek Bridge
Sebastian Greenwood Gymnasium
Sebastian Maness Schoolhouse
Sebastian Sebastian County Road 4G Bridge
Union El Dorado High School Gymnasium
Van Buren Van Buren County Road 2E Bridge
White Griffithville School
White Russell Jail

For additional information:
Adamson, Melody. “The Works Progress Administration in Batesville.” Independence County Chronicle 38 (April–July 1997): 46–59.

Hicks, Floyd W., and C. Roger Lambert. “Food for the Hungry: Federal Food Programs in Arkansas, 1933–1942.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 37 (Spring 1978): 23–43.

Huzar, Elias. “Legislative Control Over Administration: Congress and the WPA.” American Political Science Review 36 (February 1942): 51–67.

Langford, Lynda B. “The Works Projects Administration in the Pulaski County District.” Pulaski County Historical Review 35 (Spring 1987): 2–15.

Miller, Mary Cooper. “Works Progress Administration (WPA) As It Pertained to Izard County.” Izard County Historian 44 (April 2019): 4–10.

Nash, Gerald D. The Crucial Era: The Great Depression and World War Two, 1929–1945. 2nd ed. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992.

U.S. Works Projects Administration. “Final Report and Physical Accomplishments of the Works Projects Administration [in] Arkansas.” Dean B. Ellis Library Archives and Special Collections. Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Sam Morgan
Arkansas State University


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Works Projects Administration - History

During the depths of the Great Depression, Congress created several work relief agencies under the National Industrial Recovery Act. The Public Works Administration, first named the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (FEAPW), came into existence by Executive Order 6174 on June 16, 1933. FEAPW's mission was to create a comprehensive public works program. The multifold purposes included creating large-scale construction projects that would occupy the construction industry, stimulate the production and sale of durable goods and materials used in construction, reinvigorate the transportation industry by moving materiel around the nation, and stimulate banking by providing credit support for civic entities that would devise the projects and apply for funding. This methodology was designed to renew the nation's economic development and thereby create employment opportunities in all sectors. The agency was commonly called "Public Works Administration," shortened to "PWA," even before it was reorganized and its formal designation changed in 1935.

PWA's methods included building large-scale, expensive public projects involving an extensive, rigorous planning, application, and approval process before grants (gifts) or loans were made to city, county, and state government entities. In turn, the entities would pass the money along by means of bids and contracts to private firms that would perform the construction. The contractors were to hire skilled and unskilled labor, as necessary, and to purchase materials from the standard suppliers in each appropriate industry. The state or local government was required to provide 70 percent in matching, later reduced to 55 percent. This "top-down" or "pump priming" type of financial stimulus contrasted with the philosophy of PWA's sister agency, the Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA), which paid wages directly to unemployed, unskilled individuals enrolled in "make-work" projects. PWA supported the corporate and government sectors, and WPA offered direct work relief to individuals.

Despite numerous starts and stops in funding, the Public Works Administration expended several million dollars on projects small and large in Oklahoma. In many respects, PWA projects resembled those of the WPA both conducted large-scale endeavors such as schools, courthouses, city halls, hospitals, roads, streets, and engineering structures such as waterworks, bridges, and dams. From August 1933 through March 1936 Philip S. Donnell, former engineering professor at Oklahoma State University, was the PWA Oklahoma State Administrator. In 1937 the PWA was reorganized to group Oklahoma with six other states in a Regional PWA, with only a small office remaining in Oklahoma. The state/regional office approved projects from applicants and forward them to Washington for analysis and approval.

PWA's presence in Oklahoma was constrained because it was often difficult for local governments to raise the requisite matching funds. Nevertheless, large expenditures resulted in the completion of significant projects. Many of these still exist, and some remain in use. The largest, the Grand River Project, was created in April 1935 by the Oklahoma Legislature, and in August 1937 the PWA authorized an initial grant of $8.4 million and loan of $11.5 million. The Grand River project created Pensacola Dam and other dams, with associated hydroelectric generating facilities. It also facilitated flood control.

In 1935 PWA authorized $11.9 million in grants and loans, of which $9.5 million was for roads, highways, and crossings. A status report in June 1936 indicated that for the 1936 fiscal year PWA had made grants for 142 projects under way in 51 of Oklahoma's 77 counties. The 1937 allotment was $19.1 million. In fiscal 1940 the PWA and local sponsors together spent $14,870,029 on projects, compared to $32,653,761 expended by WPA and its local partners. At least 150 other PWA projects were begun or completed by the end of 1940. All told, in its ten years of operation the agency may have generated more than $60 million of construction work and employment in Oklahoma communities.

The PWA's presence in Oklahoma was ubiquitous, and the following summary offers only a small sample of its projects. It funded waterworks and sewage disposal systems in at least sixty communities. More than one hundred school buildings, school additions, and entertainment facilities were erected, most in small towns. Oklahoma City received the Civic Center Auditorium, and Woodward now had a stadium. Oklahoma City, Ardmore, Prague, Broken Bow, and Stillwater benefited from new city halls. New buildings appeared on the campuses of Oklahoma Military Academy, Oklahoma A&M University, Oklahoma College for Women, Central State Teachers College, Northwestern State Teachers College, Cameron Agricultural College, and Connors State Agricultural College. Courthouses were erected in Custer, Grady, Garfield, Pottawatomie, Pushmataha, Oklahoma, Rogers, and Woodward counties. State government buildings included the State Office Building (Jim Thorpe Building, in the Capitol Complex) and the State Armory (on Twenty-third Street in Oklahoma City). Public housing projects included Will Rogers Courts in Oklahoma City and Cherokee Terrace Apartments in Enid. Cushing got a new electric generating plant, and Ponca City got a library building. Road and bridge construction received a large share of Oklahoma's PWA allotments.

The Public Works Administration continued its activities for ten years. During 1940 and 1941 its funds were increasingly redirected away from civic improvements and toward defense construction, including military air bases. By 1942 the agency had expended more than $6 billion on 34,512 civic projects in 3,068 of the nation's 3,071 counties. Executive Order 9357, effective July 1, 1943, abolished the Public Works Administration.

The National Register of Historic Places documents several PWA properties. They include Cherokee Terrace Apartments (Enid, 1938, NR 13000939), Oklahoma City Municipal Building (1937, NR 07000521), Oklahoma County Courthouse (Oklahoma City, 1937, NR 92000126), Garfield County Courthouse (Enid, 1934, NR84003018), Pottawatomie County Courthouse (Shawnee, 1934, NR 84003424), and Grady County Courthouse (Chickasha, 1935, NR 05000131).

Bibliography

America Builds: The Record of PWA (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1939).

Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 17 November 1933, 17 May 1935, 27 September 1937, and 8 March 1941.

C. W. Short and R. Stanley-Brown, Public Buildings: A Survey of Architecture Under the Public Works Administration (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1939).

Jason Scott Smith, Building New Deal Liberalism: The Political Economy of Public Works, 1933–1956 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

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Citation

The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Dianna Everett, &ldquoPublic Works Administration,&rdquo The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=PU003.

© Oklahoma Historical Society.


Records of the Public Works Administration [PWA]

Established: In the Federal Works Agency (FWA) by Reorganization Plan No. I of 1939, effective July 1, 1939.

Predecessor Agencies:

Abolished: By EO 9357, July 1, 1943.

Successor Agencies: Office of Federal Works Administrator, FWA, as liquidator.

Finding Aids: L. Evans Walker, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Public Works Administration (PI 135), 1960.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Public Works Administration and its predecessor in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government. Records of the National Power Policy Committee (PWA) in RG 48, Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior. Records of the Work Projects Administration, RG 69.
General Records of the Federal Works Agency, RG 162. Records of the Mississippi Valley Committee (PWA) and National Planning Board (PWA) in RG 187, Records of the National Resources Planning Board.

Subject Access Terms: New Deal agency.

135.2 GENERAL RECORDS OF THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY ADMINISTRATION OF
PUBLIC WORKS AND THE PUBLIC WORKS ADMINISTRATION
1933-43
63 lin. ft.

History: FEAPW established by EO 6174, June 16, 1933, pursuant to the National Industrial Recovery Act (48 Stat. 200), same date, to prepare a comprehensive public works program. Renamed PWA and placed under Federal Works Agency, coordinating agency for federal public works activities, by Reorganization Plan No. I of 1939, effective July 1, 1939. PWA abolished, 1943. SEE 135.1.

Textual Records: General files, 1933-40, 1941-43. Minutes of the Special Board for Public Works, 1933-35. Reports submitted to the board by the Engineering Division, 1933-34. Policy and general administrative records, 1933-42. Minutes and reports of PWA conferences, 1934-41. Press releases, bulletins, speeches, and public statements of Harold L. Ickes, 1934-39, in his dual role as Secretary of the Interior and Federal Emergency Administrator of Public Works. Copies of some decisions rendered by the Board of Labor Review, 1934-36.

135.3 RECORDS OF THE PROJECTS CONTROL DIVISION
1933-47
108 lin. ft. and 8,856 rolls of microfilm

History: Projects Division established by merger of divisions for federal and nonfederal projects, 1934. Redesignated Federal Projects Division following transfer of statistical functions, 1938. Became Planning and Federal Projects Division, 1939. Merged with Division of Economics and Statistics to become Projects Control Division, 1940. Established priorities, handled applications, maintained project records, and prepared reports and statistics relating to federal and nonfederal projects.

Textual Records: Administrative files of the director and the assistant director, 1936-41. Subject files, 1933-40. Correspondence and related material concerning reclamation and other projects, 1934-41. Records of construction and status reports on nonfederal projects, 1936-39. Microfilm copies of docket files and related indexes, for nonfederal projects, 1933- 47 (8,856 rolls). Justification data files, 1933-35. "Change" letters and "transfer" letters relating to allotment and reallocation of federal project funds, 1933-43. Publications, statistics, and research material created by Division of Economics and Statistics, 1935-40. Correspondence, contracts, and related records of the Washington National Airport project, 1934- 41 the Anchorage Light and Power Project, 1934-36 and the hydroelectric power project, High Point, NC, 1936-46.

Related Records: Records of PWA projects in RG 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and RG 165, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs.

135.4 RECORDS OF THE ENGINEERING DIVISION
1935-40
5 lin. ft.

History: Established to handle engineering and architectural aspects of all PWA projects, 1933. Assumed the powers and functions of the Inspection Division, 1937. Remained in existence until 1942.

Textual Records: Orders and memorandums issued, 1935-39. Correspondence and related records concerning equipment and materials used on PWA projects, 1935-39. Correspondence relating to nonfederal projects, 1938-40.

135.5 RECORDS OF THE DIVISION OF INVESTIGATION
1933-48
95 lin. ft. and 824 rolls of microfilm

History: Established by and reported directly to the Federal Emergency Administrator of Public Works to provide information on the manner in which agency functions were being executed. Until 1936 served both the FEAPW and the Department of the Interior. Remained in existence until 1941 when all functions, records, equipment, and supplies (except those directly relating to personnel of the PWA) were transferred to the FWA.

Textual Records: Case files relating to personnel investigations, 1933-41. Microfilm copies of records and a related index relating to investigations of federal and nonfederal PWA projects, 1933-45 (824 rolls). Records relating to eight additional investigations, 1938-48 to the investigation of the Engineering Division, 1934 and to investigations in the Virgin Islands, 1934-36.

135.6 RECORDS OF THE ACCOUNTING DIVISION
1933-41
8 lin. ft.

History: Established in 1934 to supervise accounting functions relating to nonfederal projects, slum clearance projects, and administrative expenditures.

Textual Records: Subject files, 1938-41. Correspondence relating to nonfederal projects, 1934-37. Memorandums, 1935-37. Procedural and miscellaneous issuances, 1933-38.

135.7 RECORDS OF OTHER DIVISIONS
1933-41
5 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Records of the Inspection Division, consisting of three series of orders, 1935-37. Records of the Legal Division, including memorandums, 1933-41 orders, 1935-36 digests of decisions, 1939-41 special legal opinions, 1939-40 and bulletins, 1937-41.

Related Records: Records of the Public Housing Administration, RG 196, include records of the PWA Housing Division. Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, RG 48, include materials relating to the PWA Power Division and the PWA Housing Division.

135.8 RECORDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
1933-39
7,955 images

History: Appointed by PWA Administrator Harold L. Ickes to conduct an architectural survey of PWA project sites, 1933. Submitted a photographic report to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in May 1939, a truncated version of which was published later that year.

Photographic Prints and Negatives (7,640 images): Used in the 1939 committee report "Survey of the Architecture of Completed Projects of the Public Works Administration," 1933-39 (SA(A), 3,040 images). Rejected for use in the committee report, 1933-39 (SAR, 4,600 images).

Photographic Negatives (315 images): Floor plans and buildings used in Public Buildings: A Survey of Architecture of Projects Constructed by Federal and Other Governmental Bodies, by C.W. Short and R. Stanley-Brown, 1939 (PB).

135.9 FIELD RECORDS
1934-49
14 lin. ft.

Textual Records: Financial records concerning PWA projects in Texas, consisting chiefly of correspondence and administrative forms covering transactions with the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, 1934-49.

135.10 CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS (GENERAL)
1934, 1939
3 items

Maps: Pictorial map of the United States showing types of PWA work, entitled "PWA Builds the Nation," ca. 1939 (2 items). Mississippi drainage basin, by the FEAPW, 1934 (1 item).

135.11 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL)

SEE Photographic Prints and Negatives UNDER 135.8. SEE Photographic Negatives UNDER 135.8.

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


General Records of the Federal Works Agency [FWA]

Established: As an independent agency by Reorganization Plan No. I of 1939, effective July 1, 1939.

Functions: Administered the following constituent units: Public Buildings Administration (PBA), Public Works Administration (PWA), Work Projects Administration (WPA), Public Roads Administration (PRA), U.S. Housing Authority (USHA), Federal Fire Council (FFC), and Bureau of Community Facilities (BCF).

Abolished: By the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (63 Stat. 377), June 30, 1949.

Successor Agencies: General Services Administration (GSA).

Finding Aids: William E. Lind, comp., "Preliminary Inventory of the General Records of the Federal Works Agency," NC 10 (May 1962).

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Federal Works Agency in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government. Records of the Bureau of Public Roads, RG 30.
Records of the Work Projects Administration, RG 69.
Records of the Public Buildings Service, RG 121.
Records of the Public Works Administration, RG 135.
Records of the Public Housing Administration, RG 196.

Subject Access Terms: New Deal agency.

162.2 GENERAL RECORDS
1936-50

History: FWA established 1939 to supervise the PBA, a consolidation of the Public Buildings Branch (Treasury) and the Branch of Buildings Management (National Park Service) the PRA, formerly the Bureau of Roads (Agriculture) the PWA, formerly the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (FEAPW) the WPA and the USHA, formerly the Housing Division, FEAPW. FFC (an independent agency) transferred to FWA, 1939. BCF established in FWA January 1, 1945. USHA transferred to National Housing Authority and redesignated Federal Public Housing Authority by EO 9070, February 24, 1942. PWA abolished by EO 9357, July 1, 1943. WPA abolished, effective June 30, 1943, by Presidential letter of December 4, 1942. When FWA was abolished in 1949, its surviving constituent units were organizationally or functionally assigned to GSA: PBA was abolished and reconstituted as the Public Buildings Service, PRA was renamed Bureau of Public Roads, BCF became the Community Facilities Service, and the FFC was transferred without change in name.

For detailed administrative histories of FWA constituent units, including predecessor and successor agencies, SEE RG 121 (PBA), RG 30 (PRA), RG 135 (PWA), RG 69 (WPA), RG 196 (USHA), and RG 162 (BCF at 162.4 and FFC at 162.5).

162.2.1 Correspondence

Textual Records: FWA central subject files, 1941-49. Correspondence of FWA Administrators John M. Carmody, 1939-41 and Gen. Philip B. Fleming, 1942-49. Correspondence of administrators with Executive agencies, 1939-42 with smaller federal agencies, 1939-42 and with the White House, 1939-49. Reading file of the Office of the Administrator, 1939-47. Correspondence of the Administrator's assistants, 1939-42 and of the Administrator's Office, 1939-42.

Finding Aids: File classification for central files in appendix to NC 10.

162.2.2 Issuances

Textual Records: Administrative orders and related procedural records, 1939-49. PBA and WPA orders, regulations, and procedures, 1940-44.

162.2.3 Project files

Textual Records: Records concerning plans for postwar public works, 1941-44. Records relating to PWA projects, 1936-43, and other projects, 1943-44, in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Records relating to the construction of the Chicago subway, 1937- 41. Records relating to the construction of the Santee-Cooper Dam, SC, and to the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, WA, 1941. Report on the Ogden, UT, water supply, 1942.

Subject Access Terms: "Galloping Gerty."

162.2.4 Records relating to investigations

Textual Records: Case files of investigations of FWA and other federal agency employees, 1940-45 and of defense housing, 1940- 49. Investigative case files relating to the WPA, 1936-41 the PBA, 1940-42 the PRA, 1940-42 the Division of Defense Public Works, 1941-42 the Division of War Public Service, 1942-44 and the BCF, 1945-49.

162.2.5 Other records

Textual Records: Records relating to FWA liaison with the Office of War Information and its successors, 1942-48. Records relating to the organization of the FWA, 1941-44 and the GSA, 1949-50. Records of the Office of the Administrator relating to public health, recreation, and education, 1939-41 and to public relations, 1940-42. Administrator's books, 1946-48. Records relating to the veterans' education program, 1946-48. Records of the Program and Projects Review Board, 1942-44.

Microfilm Publications: T1028.

Sound Recordings (2 items): Speech by FWA Administrator John M. Carmody on defense housing, 1941.

162.3 RECORDS RELATING TO STAFF OFFICES
1934-49

162.3.1 Records of the Office of the General Counsel

Textual Records: Correspondence of General Counsel Alan Johnstone relating to legal policy and administrative procedures, 1939-46.

162.3.2 Records of the Office of the Executive Director

Textual Records: Correspondence, 1939-47.

162.3.3 Records of the Office of Information

Textual Records: Correspondence with regional offices, 1941-44. Speeches of FWA administrators, 1939-49. Press releases of the Office of Information, 1942-45. Press releases of the FWA and its constituent agencies, 1939-49. Digests of press comments on FWA activities, 1942-49 and on FWA regional activities, 1942-44. Presidential addresses, 1934-42.

162.4 RECORDS RELATING TO THE BUREAU OF COMMUNITY FACILITIES AND ITS PREDECESSORS
1940-49

History: Division of Defense Public Works (DDPW), established in FWA by administrative order, July 16, 1941, to supervise national defense public works projects. Division of War Public Service (DWPS), established in FWA August 3, 1942, under provisions of the National Defense Housing (Lanham) Act (54 Stat. 1125), October 14, 1940, to administer public services required by the war effort. DDPW and DWPS consolidated to form the BCF by Administrator's order, December 12, 1944, effective January 1, 1945. Transferred to GSA with other constituent units of FWA when FWA abolished by the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (63 Stat. 377), June 30, 1949, and became the Community Facilities Service (CFS). Transferred to Housing and Home Finance Agency (HHFA) from GSA by Reorganization Plan No. 17 of 1950, effective May 24, 1950, and designated the Division of Community Facilities and Operations. Designated Community Facilities Administration (CFA) and made constituent unit of HHFA by Administrator's Organizational Order No. 1, December 23, 1954. Abolished by Department of Housing and Urban Development Act (79 Stat. 667), September 9, 1965, and functions assigned to new department.

Textual Records: Defense housing specifications, 1941. Defense housing statistical bulletins, 1940-41. Records of the War Public Works Program, 1941-49. Project summary lists, 1942-43.

162.5 RECORDS OF THE FEDERAL FIRE COUNCIL
1930-44

History: Established as an interagency council by EO 7397, June 20, 1936, to advise on fire prevention. Assigned to FWA by EO 8194, July 6, 1939. Transferred with FWA to GSA, 1949. Transferred to Commerce Department by EO 11654, March 13, 1972.

Textual Records: Correspondence, 1931-42. Fire reports, 1930-44. Surveys and reports of standing committees, 1931-41. Reports of temporary committees, 1931-38. Minutes of council meetings pertaining to fire prevention, 1930-40. Survey reports relating to government buildings, 1936.

162.6 SOUND RECORDINGS (GENERAL)

162.7 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL)
1936-49

Photographs (4,498 images): FWA activities, including war industries, defense housing, construction, and education, 1944-49 (FWA, 3,298 images). General subjects, including Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, disaster relief, and military personnel, 1936-44 (G, 1,200 images).

Photographic Prints (1,500 images): PBA activities, 1939-43 (PBA, 400 images). DDPW activities, 1941-44 (WP, 1,100 images).

Finding Aids: Shelf lists to G and WP.

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


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