When the Great Depression hit the United States in 1929, the American economy hit rock bottom. The value of the dollar became nearly worthless and millions of Americans lost their jobs. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced “The New Deal,” a series of new programs designed to pick America back up on to its feet and get the economy moving again. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was one of those programs.
Initially designed to fund the building and improvement of America’s infrastructure, it also funded Veterans Graves Registration, the arts, history, and culture of America. In short, the WPA employed out-of-work Americans who were certified by local agencies as meeting certain qualifications.
The WPA was born in 1935 with an initial appropriation of $4.88 billion dollars from the Emergency Relief Fund. In 1939, the WPA was renamed the Works Projects Administration. Over it’s eight years in existence, the WPA employed approximately 8.5 million Americans, and spent a total of $11 billion dollars. It remains today as the most vigorous attempt in history to stimulate the U.S economy. The WPA was responsible for building structures; it paved 651,000 miles of road, built 78,000 bridges, 8,000 parks, and 800 airports.
The WPA funded some programs in the humanities including:
Federal Arts Project
Federal Theatre Project
Federal Writers Project
Historical Records Survey (HRS)
National Health Survey
Veteran’s Grave Registration Program
Locally the WPA funded a Veteran’s Grave Registration program. WPA workers would visit every cemetery in Williams County, map out the cemetery and provide locations of each Veteran’s gravesite. This information does not provide veteran’s identification, simply identifies where the veteran is buried in each cemetery and which war they served in. This information was compiled in 1940 and therefore, does not include any information after that date. The records from this project are compiled by Township.