Works Progress Administration (LWPA)
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was an ambitious employment and infrastructure program created by President Roosevelt in 1935, during the bleakest years of the Great Depression.
The WPA – which in 1939 was renamed the Work Projects Administration (WPA) – employed mostly unskilled men to carry out public works infrastructure projects. In addition to its well-known building and infrastructure projects, the WPA also oversaw a group of programs collectively known as Federal Project Number One. These programs employed artists, musicians, actors, and writers.
While inequities existed under the programs, many women, blacks, and other minorities found employment with the WPA. In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration sponsored a Federal Writers' Project dedicated to chronicling the experience of slavery as remembered by former slaves. African-American men and women born into slavery were interviewed. Their stories were recorded and transcribed. Between 1936 and 1938 interviewers working on behalf of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) collected more than 2,300 interviews with former slaves living in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The contents of the interview transcripts and more than five hundred black-and-white photographs of interviewees compose the largest collection of primary source materials from individuals who lived and toiled under the system of American slavery.