Relief Prior To The WPA

The great industrial depression that began late in 1929 found the United States unprepared to meet a major relief problem. Public relief to the destitute was still being administered chiefly under State poor laws which had been framed to take care of the smaller relief needs of an earlier day.

Economic conditions had changed greatly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; the United States, formerly in the main an agricultural Nation, had become highly industrialized, but the poor laws had never been modernized to lit these changed conditions.

Public relief in many of the larger cities had come to be supplemented extensively by organized private charity. But neither public relief nor private charity was geared to meet the large-scale destitution which arose from mass unemployment.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the period when the state poor laws took form, the relief problem in the United States was relatively small. It centered around the unemployables, such as the needy aged, the crippled, the insane, and orphans.

Relatives were considered to have Hie primary responsibility for these unemployables; and only where family assistance could not be secured, and private charity was unavailable, was relief given—generally by the local community through the local poor master or overseer of the poor.

In addition to the above continuing relief needs, there were occasional serious needs arising from the unemployment caused by the tips and downs of the business cycle.

Employable persons in need of aid during such periods were likewise thought to be purely a local responsibility. In short, all State poor laws gave to the locality (the county, city, or town) the duty of both administering and paying for poor relief.

The early poor laws of the various States were based upon the English poor laws of the Elizabethan era, and included many repressive features which were intended to discourage the needy from applying for public relief except in dire extremity. [ ]

The recipients of poor relief were usually required to take a "pauper's oath." The relief granted was kept at the barest minimum. More than this bare minimum of relief, if given to the unemployable groups, might encourage relatives to shirk their proper responsibilities ; and, if given to employable persons, would foster idleness, according to the views held at that time.

Efforts were made in many communities to mitigate the harshness of these laws, to provide more adequate care for the needy, and to give more appropriate care to different groups of needy persons.

Repeated attempts were made throughout the nineteenth century, and more particularly in the early decades of the twentieth, to improve the care afforded to those placed in poorhouses.

The widespread practice of keeping homeless hidden and the needy aged in the same institution with insane and feeble-minded persons, and sometimes with vagrants, was curbed. More and more the needy aged, the homeless children, and the insane and feeble-minded were sent to separate State institutions.
The extensive development of outdoor relief, or home relief, which began at the turn of the century, represented another effort to give suitable care to various groups of needy persons.

Home relief, which became a very important form of public assistance in the early 1900's, was a system under which certain needy persons were given relief in their own homes rather than being sent to poorhouses.

Home relief, however, was usually limited to small donations of food, clothing, and fuel. Cash relief was seldom given, on the assumption that relief recipients were incompetent to handle their own affairs. [ ]

The development of "categorical" relief constitutes perhaps the greatest break with the repressive theories of early poor relief. It began to be generally recognized in the early 1900's that certain groups of needy persons were entitled to receive better care than was given under the poor laws.

As a result, special legislation, usually referred to as categorical relief, was passed in a number of States. By 1929, 44 States had passed veterans' relief laws; 43 States had enacted legislation providing for aid to de- pendent children in their own homes; 22 States had laws for aid to the blind; and 10 States had laws for assistance to the needy aged.
Although categorical relief was an improvement over the poor laws, the number of persons receiving aid (prior to the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935) was small and the relief given was often inadequate.

Generally, the State legislation was permissive; localities could adopt it or not as they chose. Furthermore, while the legislation was State legislation, the raising of funds was usually a local responsibility.

This public relief system (poor law relief and categorical legislation) was supplemented by organized private charity. in some areas, private charities played an important role; in others, they were an insignificant factor or nonexistent. Approximately three-fourths of all relief provided in J 929 was given by governmental agencies.

In this period, up to 1929, although some substantial improvements had been made in the methods of furnishing relief to unemployables, little had been done toward developing any system of relief capable of dealing with the destitution arising from unemployment.

In most localities, the same type of relief was given to employable persons as to those unable to work. Able-bodied men applying for relief were often required to work on a woodpile; but this was chiefly a test of their willingness to work.

Unemployment, increasing rapidly and continuously after the stock market crash in the latter part of 1929, created a major relief problem. In January 1930, almost 4,000,000 persons were unemployed; the number rose to about 7,000,000 by December of that year; and this number was doubled by the early part of 1933.

Although unemployment decreased greatly after 1933, it nevertheless continued to exist on a large scale, year after year, persisting until the defense and war activities of the early 1940's reduced joblessness to extremely small proportions.

During the period of mass unemployment in the 1830 decade, it became necessary to institute new relief methods. At first, because relief had traditionally been a local responsibility, local agencies were called on to bear alone the burdens of relief for the masses of destitute unemployed workers and their families.

The regular public and private agencies were unequal to the task, and emergency local agencies, both public and private, were set up throughout the country during 1930.

The inability of local governments to finance large-scale programs of unemployment relief soon forced State governments to give them aid. Emergency relief administrations were set up in four States in 1931, and in half the States by the close of 1932. But the States found their financial resources insufficient for meeting these continually in- creasing relief needs. Federal aid was increasingly demanded. [ ]

The first step taken by the Federal Government was the appointment by the President in the latter part of 1930 (if the President's Emergency Committee for Employment. [ ]

This committee sought to stimulate State and local relief activities and also State and local public construction; and it urged citizens to "spruce up" their homes, and to "give a job."

This committee's work was taken over in August 1931 by the President's Organization on Unemployment Relief. This new committee continued to stress State and local reemployment activities but placed increasing emphasis on the development of State and local relief efforts.

Neither of these committees was provided with any Federal funds for unemployment relief uses.

In March 1932, a Congressional resolution authorized the Federal Farm Board to give the American Red Cross 40,000,000 bushels of government-held surplus wheat for distribution to the destitute.

Similar action in July 1932 made available for relief purposes 45,000,000 bushels of wheat from the Grain Stabilization Corporation and 500,000 bales of cotton from the Cotton Stabilization Corporation.

The most significant departure from the traditional concept of local responsibility for relief came with the adoption of the Emergency Relief and Construction Act of 1932, title I (section 1) of which made $300,000,000 of Federal funds available for repayable advances to States and local governments. [ ]

Applications for advances were to be made to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation; the $300,000,00 was intended merely to serve as a supplement to State and local relief funds.

In applying for such advances, a governor certified that his State could not meet its relief problem from its own re- sources. Local governments in need of aid could also obtain relief funds from the RFC by putting up their own local bonds as collateral.

As of May 29, 1933, when the RFC ended its activities under title 1 of the Emergency Relief and Construction Act, nearly all the States and two territories (Hawaii and Puerto Rico) had received advances.

The distribution of this $300,000,000 had helped to carry on relief pro- grams in some of the most hard-hit areas of the Nation. But by 1933 a great many local governments were nearly, if not actually, bankrupt, and but few States were able to give substantial aid to local relief activities.

There was no longer any question of the necessity of Federal aid for unemployment relief. On May 12, 1933. under legislation approved by Congress, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration was created, and $500,000,000 was made available for grants to the States for emergency relief purposes. [ ]

By the end of 1933, Federal emergency relief grants were being made to all the States. The FERA was later given additional appropriations, and it continued in active operation until the end of 1935.

The FERA was the beginning of a form of partnership arrangement between the Federal Government and the States and local governments in meeting the unemployment relief problem, a partnership which was later to continue in somewhat different forms through the Civil Works Administration and the Works Progress Administration periods.

Because the early partnership arrangement achieved through the FERA throws considerable light on the later WPA work program, a discussion of the aims and objectives of the FERA and the manner in which it operated follows in some detail.

The FERA was a Federal grant agency, operating through the making of grants of funds to the States. The governors of the various States applied to the FERA for relief funds. Upon receipt, these Federal funds became State funds; they were turned over to the various State emergency relief administrations, which in turn allocated the money received from the FERA, along with funds raised by the State Itself, to the local public relief agencies. The local agencies spent these funds, together with such local funds as had been made available, for relief purposes.

The States and localities were not free, however, to spend FERA funds in any manner they saw fit. In line with the practice of other established Federal grant agencies, the FERA prescribed certain Federal regulations to which States were required to conform on penalty of receiving no further grants.

This was a safeguard against misuse of relief funds. The FERA, however, also had several positive aims which it sought to achieve by a gradual establishment of higher standards in the relief practices of the communities.

One of the important aims of the FERA was to see that the relief given to persons in need was as adequate as possible. How much were persons on relief to receive?

As one of the conditions of its grants, the FERA promulgated a general formula which local relief agencies were to use in setting the amount of relief for each case receiving relief or work relief.

The local relief agency first estimated the minimum monthly income upon which a family of a given size could subsist in that locality, The total estimated monthly income of the family was then subtracted from this estimated monthly budget.

The local relief agency was to furnish the budgetary deficiency, the difference between minimum needs and income. The FERA ruled that persons on work relief must be given cash rather than payment in kind; cash was also urged for those receiving direct relief, but no mandatory rule was issued on this point.

In practice, the amount of relief given to a family of a certain size and composition varied considerably from State to State and from county to county. Relief was reasonably adequate in some States; other States were unwilling or unable to adopt satisfactory standards.

During the period of FERA grants, however, the average amount of relief given monthly to each case for the country as a whole increased from $14.13 in May 1933 to $28.13 in January 1935. [ ]

Other FERA regulations were designed to diversify the relief programs in the various States, so that a suitable kind of relief could be given to each group of needy persons. Among those on relief rolls were large numbers of workers from the cities, destitute farmers, the aged, mothers with dependent children, youths, and other special groups.

Each of the above broad groups was made "up of widely differing types of individuals whose needs varied greatly. Jobless white-collar workers, for example, presented a different relief problem from that of unskilled workers.

In general, the FERA sought to establish a differentiation of the various relief groups and the development of programs to fit their special needs. For the employable persons on relief rolls, work programs were developed.

A large-scale direct relief program was operated for those who were unable to work or for whom public work could not be provided. A rural rehabilitation program was created to assist some of the rural destitute. In addition, such special activities as transient relief, emergency education, and college student aid were inaugurated.

The work programs developed by States and localities under the FERA were entirely different from the old "work test" activities which had been carried on for many years under the poor laws. It was not reasonable, in a period of mass unemployment, to set the head of a needy family to chopping wood as a test of his willingness to work.

The work relief projects set up in the FERA period were intended to conserve the skills, work habits, and morale of the able-bodied unemployed through work suited as far as possible to their abilities and of value to their communities.

Public work projects had, of course, been put in operation by many State and local governments during 1932 and in the early months of 1933, before the FERA was created. Considerably more than 1,000,000 persons, on the average, had been employed on such emergency work projects during the 6 months before the FERA got under way.

Some of these projects, however, were closer to work tests than to real work relief. Sufficient funds were seldom available for materials for construction, and a good deal of the work was of a maintenance character, such as gave rise to the term "leaf-raking projects."

Moreover, little attempt had been made to provide jobs in line with the past experience of the relief workers. White collar workers and skilled workers, along with unskilled labor, were often placed on such hastily planned projects as sprucing up parks and patching roads.

Cash wages were seldom paid; instead, the workers on these projects were usually given baskets of food or grocery orders, like unemployable persons on relief.

With substantial aid from FERA funds, State and local work programs were gradually improved during the period from June through October 1933.

Workers' wages were still computed on a budgetary deficiency basis, but prevailing hourly wage rates came to be used. Projects became more useful as more money was spent on materials and as the work was more carefully planned and supervised.

In the meantime, large-scale unemployment still continued. The small boom which occurred in the summer of 1933 was over by November, at which time the number of unemployed was 11,000,000.

It had been hoped that the construction program operated under the contract method by the newly created Public Works Administration would give considerable employment during the winter of 1933- 34.

The PWA, however, was slow in getting under way," because of the lack of adequate plans, legal difficulties, and other delays. It was therefore decided to supplement PWA and FERA activities by operating a large-scale Federal force-account program that would provide useful work during the winter of 1933-34, and would at the same time aid business generally by a rapid increase in purchasing power.

The agency created to carry out these purposes was the Federal Civil Works Administration. Familiarly known; as the CWA, the agency was established early in November 1933 to conduct a short but important work program.

The CAVA was in active operation until the end of March 1934. the emergency work program of the FERA being meanwhile largely discontinued. The FERA and the CWA, although operated in large part by the same personnel, and cooperating closely, were separate organizations.

Throughout the existence of the Civil Works program, the FERA continued to make grants to States for direct relief.

During the early weeks of the CWA, nearly all of the CWA workers were transferees from the early FERA work programs. At the peak of CWA employment, the week ending January 18, 1934, over 4,260,000 persons were at work.

About half of these were taken from the relief rolls; the remainder were drawn from the ranks of the unemployed who were not on relief. In accordance with original plans, the CWA program was liquidated rapidly in the spring of 1934.

The Civil Works program, unlike that of the FERA, was operated as a Federal program. CWA funds were not turned over to the States; instead, Federal offices of the CWA were set up in each State and locality.

CWA workers were paid by Federal checks. Except for a few projects sponsored by Federal agencies, the CWA State offices passed upon all project applications. Nevertheless, the State and local governments played an important part in the operation of the CWA program.

Most of the projects operated under the program were planned and sponsored by cities, towns, and counties, which supplied part of the cost. The CWA expended a total of about $951,650,000. Of this total, the Federal Government provided $860,403,000; State and local project sponsors provided the remainder. [ ]

In its wage policy the Civil Works program differed greatly from previous work programs. It did not set wages according to the budgetary deficiency method which had been used by the FERA. Instead, schedules of wages, varying according to geographical zones, were set up.

Minimum weekly wages for clerical and other white-collar workers were set at $18, $15, and $12 for the northern, central, and southern zones, respectively.

An hourly wage schedule, based on the PWA zone system, was set up for skilled and unskilled workers as follows:

 

Skilled

Unskilled

Northern

$1.20

$0.50

Central

$1.10

$0.45

Southern

$1.00

$0.40

Few CWA workers received the top hourly rates; for the week ending January 11, 1934, for example, only about 4 percent of all CWA workers were earning $1.20 or more an hour. About 80 percent were earning less than 55 cents an hour.

Toward the end of the CWA, the zone rates were dropped because in some localities they were found to be in excess of prevailing rates. The new policy provided for prevailing hourly rates, with a minimum of 30 cents an hour.

For the first 2 months of the program all CWA project workers, with the exception of clerical workers, were given a maximum employment of S hours a day, 30 hours a week, and 130 hours a month. Average weekly earnings per worker for a sample week during this period were about $15.

This sum was considerably larger than the weekly amount received by a relief worker under the preceding FERA program. Because of a shortage of funds during the latter part of the CWA program, however, the hours worked were sharply reduced; as a result, the average weekly earnings of CWA workers dropped to $11.32 for the week ending January 25.

The largest group of CWA projects consisted of work on highways, roads, and streets. About 255,000 miles of road- way were repaired and constructed. The next largest group of projects was public buildings. About 60,000 such buildings, including 30.000 schools, were improved or newly built.

CWA workers also laid out and improved athletic fields and parks, built swimming pools, and developed other recreational facilities.

Unemployed white collar workers performed useful work on projects requiring workers with professional or clerical training; such projects included the providing of clerks and machine operators for work at Weather Bureau stations, the surveying and relocating of boundary lines, the plotting of streets, and the drafting of charts, maps, and diagrams.

As the Civil Works program drew to a close, a new work program under the FERA, known as the emergency work relief program, was placed in operation in April 1934. This program, like the work program of the FERA prior to that of the CWA, was operated through the grant method.

While the FERA could to some extent influence the emergency work programs in the various States, primary control over these programs remained in State and local relief administrations.

In the first place, workers on the FERA emergency work program secured employment through the social-service division of their own local relief administration. This division was everywhere the focal point of intake for all relief programs, work, or direct relief.

It was this division which Investigated need, determined the budgetary deficiency of the case, certified employable persons (not more than one in each family) to the local work division, managed direct relief, and reinvestigated from time to time the need of all persons receiving direct or work relief.

In brief, although Federal regulations were issued from time to time, the local social-service division really determined eligibility for work relief, and also, by calculating the budgetary deficiency, determined the total wages to be paid.

The task of operating the various work projects was also essentially In the hands of the work divisions of the various State and local emergency relief administrations, subject only to general Federal control.

Projects had to come within one of the broad major categories declared to be eligible by the FERA, and work had to be carried on in conformity with certain regulations issued by the FERA. But the actual planning, selection of projects for operation, and supervision over the carrying out of projects were vested in the States and localities.

All projects were required to have a sponsor, which was usually one of the regular agencies of the State or local government, such as the State department of highways or education, or the local city engineering department.

Some of the projects were sponsored by the State or local work division or some other division of the State relief agency. General responsibility for the supervision of the project was usually given to the sponsor and on occasion to the work division.

Plans drawn by a sponsor for a project, if approved by the local relief agency, were sent to the State agency for final approval. [ ]

Work was provided under the emergency work relief program for more than 1,000,000 persons in April 1934 and a peak employment total of 2,500,000 was reached in January 1935. The program remained in operation until the latter part of 1935, by which time the program of the Works Progress Administration had come into full operation.

Civil Works program wage schedules were dropped un- der the emergency work-relief program. Total earnings of workers under the emergency work-relief program were based on the budgetary deficiency method (as with FERA wages prior to the CWA). During the period from April 1934 through the middle of 1935, earnings averaged about $28 per month.

The prevailing hourly wage rate policy of the CWA was retained, and workers were employed the number of hours necessary to earn wages sufficient to cover their budgetary deficiency. [ ]

The types of projects carried on under, the emergency work-relief program was much the same as those operated under the CWA. In all, there were completed about 240,000 projects, representing a total cost of nearly $1,300,000,000.

In return for this expenditure, many types of public improvements were secured. For example, 40,000 miles of new road were constructed and over 200,000 miles of road were repaired; and 5,000 new public buildings were constructed, including firehouses, schools, armories, and hospitals.

Throughout the entire period of existence of the FERA, more than half the total cases of the emergency relief rolls received direct relief benefits. Persons receiving direct relief included not only many unemployables but a large number of employables for whom work relief could not be furnished.

The proportion of work relief clients to the total number of cases on emergency relief rolls varied greatly from State to State.

Shortage of funds for materials, lack of skilled relief labor, insufficient supervisory personnel, and fear of possible competition with private industry, were the most important factors militating against the provision of work for all employables on relief rolls.

Direct relief was therefore an essential part of the FERA program and was continued under State programs after the cessation of FERA grants at the close of 1935.

The FERA, during the period from May 1933 through December 1935, accomplished its Immediate purpose in developing programs designed to meet the different needs of the various classes of persons on the relief rolls. In addition to the work and direct relief programs, it developed special programs for farmers, teachers, transients, and youths.

One such undertaking, the rural rehabilitation program, was established with the aim of putting certain destitute farmers back on a self-sustaining basis.

This was accomplished by the extension of credit for working capital and stock, by an adjustment of the farmer's debt, and sometimes by moving the farmer to better land. In emergency cases, direct aid in the form of food, clothing, and fuel, was given, pending more fundamental adjustment.

Such direct aid, which was not materially different from the general emergency relief offered in rural areas, was not repayable.

The first advances to farmers for "rehabilitation in place" were made in April 1934. During June 1935, as many as 200,000 farm families received loans. At the time of the transfer of rural rehabilitation activities to the Resettlement Administration, July 1935, about 364,000 cases were under care; that is, they had received loans which had not yet been fully repaid.

Another special activity in which the FERA participated was the distribution of farm surpluses to persons on relief rolls through a program operated by the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation.

The program was designed not only to help farmers by the removal from the market of certain price-depressing crop surpluses, but also to assist persons on relief rolls who received these farm products through distribution systems set up by the State emergency relief administrations.

From October 1933 through October 1935 the FSRC distributed to States commodities valued at $265,000,000. Among the surplus commodities distributed were beef and veal, pork and sausage, mutton, cereals of many kinds, and fruits.

In November 1935, the Corporation was given a new name, Federal Surplus Commodities Corporation, and was placed under the direction of the Department of Agriculture. [ ]

The special needs of another group, that of qualified I teachers on relief rolls, prompted the creation of the 1 emergency education program. Employment on this program reached a peak in March 1935 of more than 44,000 persons.

The subjects taught varied considerably from State to State, since each State department of education was responsible for drafting its own program. Among the major categories were general adult education, literacy classes, vocational education and rehabilitation, parent education, workers' education, and nursery schools.

The emergency education program was curtailed in the fall of 1935, at which time similar activities were being developed under the work program of the WPA.

Another special activity begun under the FERA late in 1933 was the college student aid program. This program was designed to give part-time employment to college students who otherwise would not have been able to continue their education.

During the winter of 1934-35, an average of more than 100,000 students were aided. In September 1935 this activity was placed under the direction of the National Youth Administration, which was carried on under the general supervision of the WPA Administrator. High school as well as college students were made eligible for aid under the National Youth Administration program.

The FERA early recognized the need for some special action for transients. This group had long been regarded by States and localities as an unwelcome burden.

The severe depression after 1929 had added to this feeling, for some transients were then accused of taking jobs "properly" belonging to local residents. To encourage States to care for transients, the FERA agreed to pay all expenses of transient programs in those States drawing up approved plans for meeting the problem.

Transient centers and camps were set up in many areas and work relief projects were instituted for able-bodied transients. An average of almost 300,000 transient persons received assistance during the winter of 1934-35. When the FERA was discontinued, provision for transients was included in regular work proj- ect, activities of the WPA.

Obligations amounting to $101,422.000 were incurred for all types of transient relief during the period from January 1933 through December 1935.

This figure includes amounts expended from earmarked FERA grants for the care of interstate transients, and expenditures for intra-state transients which were met in part from FERA grants for general relief and in part from other emergency relief funds.

During the last half of 1934 and the first 6 months of 1935, when transient relief operations were at their peak, total obligations, including those incurred for plant equipment, materials, and relief extended to cases, averaged almost $5,000,000 a month. [ ]

During the 3 years from January 1933 through December 1935, obligations totaling $4,119,005,000 were incurred from local, State, and Federal funds, including RFC funds advanced prior to the establishment of the FERA, for all general relief and special emergency relief activities in the continental United States. [ ]

Of the total amount obligated during this period, the four special emergency relief programs together accounted for 5 percent, or a total of $209,192,000. General relief extended to cases, including direct relief and the earnings of persons receiving work relief, accounted for $3,211,807,000 or 78 percent.

Earnings of non-relief persons performing skilled und supervisory work on emergency work relief projects accounted for $109,673,000, and purchases of materials, supplies, and equipment, $138.218,000; together they represented 6 percent of the total obligations.

The remaining $450,114,000, or 11 percent, accounted for miscellaneous expenses of the emergency work relief program such as rental of equipment and team and truck hire, administrative costs, and other miscellaneous items.

In 1935, changes of far-reaching significance were made in Federal relief policies and programs. A new Federal work program was begun in the summer of 1935 and, as the year drew to a close, the FERA grant program was discontinued. In that same year, the Social Security Act was passed.

The stopgap FERA had served its purpose; it had met the relief crisis of 1933 and it had given the time necessary to plan other measures. In appraising the FERA. it must be remembered that 1933 was a crisis year in which speed was of the utmost importance.

Federal funds had to be made available immediately to the destitute unemployed. The choice of the grant method by Congress in 1933, rather than a method giving more Federal control of operations and expenditures, was natural enough in the light of past relief history.

Relief had traditionally been a local responsibility. There were State and local emergency relief administrations in existence. It was assumed that Federal aid would be necessary for only a short period, until the crisis had passed. The grant method appeared to be the simplest way for the Federal Government to give swift aid for a short period.

Not only did the FERA "hold the line" for two years; it experimented with many types of programs during the period. Experience was gained that was to be of great value in operating the work program of the WPA. The Social Security Hoard, the National Youth Administration, the Surplus Marketing Administration, and other agencies owe much to experimental programs conducted by the FERA.

The conviction grew in 1933 and 1934, however, that the relief problem would continue on a large scale for an indefinite period. It was felt that new measures should be undertaken which would involve a further and more decisive differentiation of certain elements of the relief problem and place sonic of the relief programs on a more permanent basis. The new differentiation was to be between employables and unemployables.

FERA grants had been used to take care of both the employables and the unemployables on the State emergency relief rolls. In November 1934, for example, there were about 5,000,000 cases (families and single persons) on emergency relief rolls. Investigations had indicated that there were employable persons in about 3,500,000 of these cases. In the other 1,500,000 cases there was no person capable of self-sustaining effort.

In redrafting plans for 1935, the President and the Congress agreed that the States and localities should reassume primary responsibility for the unemployable groups in accordance with traditional concepts. Under the Social Security Act. approved in August 1935, Federal aid for unemployables was limited to certain categories.

Federal grants were made available, on a matching basis, to States setting up approved pension systems for the needy aged, for mothers with dependent children, and for the blind. [ ]

The matching proviso was intended to foster permanent arrangements for the care of these groups and to secure wider State participation in the financing of the program. Unemployables not falling within these categories were left entirely in the care of States and localities.

With respect to the second large group of destitute per- sons, the needy unemployed persons who were willing and able to work, different responsibilities were involved. As indicated by the President, unemployment is a national problem and the Federal Government for financial and other reasons must take the lead in meeting the destitution arising from it.

The Social Security Act contained two highly Important insurance programs designed to safeguard the worker against future problems of destitution. The act made provision for a contributory old-age insurance or annuity system, under which superannuated workers were to receive benefits.

This system was created to take care of workers who might otherwise have to apply for public assistance after their working years were over. For the short-term unemployed, the act provided for the encouragement of State systems of unemployment compensation.

The FEHA had shown the value of the work method and those who drew up the Federal relief policy in 1935 accepted the proposition that work rather than direct relief should be the keystone of Federal policy with respect to needy employables.

In the belief, however, that better results could be achieved by replacing the FERA and utilizing different methods, provision was made for a new type of work program under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935. A new works program, of which the WPA was a part, was created in the spring of 1935.


For (in account of the development of the English poor laws, Fee Sidney and Beatrice Webb, English Local Government: English Poor Law History: Part I. The Old Poor Law, 1927; English Poor Law History: Part II. The Last Hundred Years, Vol II, 1920 (London: Longmans, Green and Co., Ltd.).

See Joanna C. Colcord, Cash Relief (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1936).

See Edward A. Williams, Federal Aid for Relief (New York: Columbia University Press, 1939), ch. I.

For an account of the activities of this committee, known as the "Woods Committee," see E. P. Hayes, Activities of the President's Emergency Committee for Employment 19S0-1SS1 (Privately printed, Rumford Press, Concord, N. H., 1930).

Public No. 302, 72d Congress, approved July 21, 1932. Advances were to bear interest at 3 percent. It was originally in- tended that Stale advances should be repaid by deductions from future Federal road grants, but this method of repayment was subsequently canceled; advances were thus in effect converted into straight grants. Advances made to local subdivisions were not canceled.

Federal Emergency Relief Act of 1933, Public No. 15. 3d Congress.

See Enid Baird in collaboration with Hugh P. Brlnton, Average General Relief Benefits, 1938-1938 (Washington, D. C.: Works Progress Administration, 1940), p. 12.

See Analysis of Civil Works Program Statistics, Division of Statistics (Washington, D. C.: Works Progress Administration, June 1939), pp. 30-81.

Only a few statistical projects required FERA approval at Washington, the Federal check being designed to avoid possible duplication and to ensure comparability of data.

The 30-cent hourly minimum adopted by the CWA toward the close of its program was carried over under the emergency work relief program but was abandoned in November 1984.

Under a supplementary system known as the "food stamp plan," introduced in the spring of 1939, low-income families eligible for public assistance were given additional purchasing power in the form of stamps, redeemable by the Government and acceptable in grocery stores in exchange for certain food products officially designated as surplus. The plan was operated in every State except West Virginia, and in nearly nil cities of over 25,000 population. At the height of operations, in May 1941, more than 3,968,000 persons participated. Food stamp plan operations were terminated March 1, 1943, after food surpluses had ceased to exist.

For additional information concerning transient relief, see Harry L. Hopkins, Spending to Save (New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Inc., 1936). pp. 126-138.

See T. E. Whiting. Final Statistical Report of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (Washington. D. C.: Work Projects Administration. 1942). This report gives complete statistical data concerning all phases of FERA operations.

Under the FERA the Federal Government bad been bearing about 70 percent of the cost of all emergency relief.

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WPA / Works Progress Administration
GG Archives

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Books

Farmers on Relief and Rehabilitation - WPA - 1937

Inventory: An Appraisal of Results of the Works Progress Administration - 1938

Rural Families on Relief - Research Monograph XVII - 1938

Rural Youth: Their Situation and Prospects - Research Monograph XV - 1938

Rural Youth - Their Situation and Prospects - Conclusions - 1938

New Deal for Youth - The National Youth Administration (NYA) - 1938

1935-05 The Drought and Current Farm Imports

1936-10-15 Report on Progress of The Works Program

Final Report on the WPA Program 1935-43

Handbook of Proceedures - 1937

Report on Progress of WPA Program - 1942

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