Today, April 8th, 81 years ago Congress passed the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, the law that created the Works Progress Administration, an unprecedented effort by the federal government to provide employment during an economic crisis. At its peak the WPA employed over 8 million people on public projects varying from building roads and constructing schools and making parks to creating public works of art. The Poughkeepise, New York area (a neighbor to Hyde Park, NY Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home) has benefited from these efforts —Taconic Parkway, Poughkeepsie Post Office and even my son’s elementary school, Kinry PS.
Eager to learn more about the WPA and President FDR ‘s efforts to save millions of Americans from poverty and despair, check out American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work, or Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Incidentally, one of the ways the WPA employed writers was by sending them all over the country to document the varying foods and culinary traditions of different parts of the country. You can read about their discoveries in Mark Kurlansky’sThe Food of a Younger Land.
Currently, I am reading The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro, a fictional account of the many artists employed by the WPA to create beautification for public buildings, such as Willem DeKooning, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner , Ernest Albert, Mark Rothko. It was well known that the President’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt was personally involving in overseeing the art portion of the WPA.
Or, learn more about the WPA by visiting nearby , Hyde Park, NY, home to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s house.