Inventory: An Appraisal of Results of the Works Progress Administration - 1938
Front Cover, Inventory: An Appraisal of Results of the Works Progress Administration, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1938. GGA Image ID # 151d5cc2c2
This report, therefore, is a detailed examination of the public facilities and services built or performed by WPA workers up to October 1, 1937, obtained by individual inventory of the 150,000 projects that had been operated up to that time. The few selected illustrations of each type of work are for the purpose of giving visual as well as narrative evidence of the scope and quality of the works and services. The report also contains, in the form of occasional footnotes or addenda, examples of the relationship between these data and the total accomplishments of all three Federal relief agencies.
These reports have presented in detail the problem of unemployment as we have found it, the manner in which we have met it and the financial considerations Involved. But no attempt has been made, until now, to report in full the actual physical accomplishments of those who have been taken from the relief rolls and put to work at Federal pay.
Over one-third of the entire WPA program is devoted to roads, streets, bridges, and related facilities. The mileage of roads and streets, newly built or improved by the WPA, would reach eighteen times around the globe. Nearly every American community has requested WPA projects of this type.
Construction of public parks and facilities for recreation constitutes more than 11 percent of the WPA program. It is exceeded in volume only by the work on roads, streets, and bridges.
WPA workers have built 12,212 new public buildings, constructed 1,363 additions to existing buildings, and improved 36,510. More than one-tenth of all WPA money has been spent on public buildings, principally for education, recreation, and a wide variety of public administration purposes.
Ranking fourth among the categories of WPA construction is the program of water supply and facilities for the disposal of sewage, which aggregates slightly less than one-tenth of all the agency's work.
The WPA's completed work on 266 landing fields has aided American municipalities in their desperate struggle to keep ground facilities abreast of the phenomenal growth in the size and speed of transport airplanes.
Many an American community, busy with the problems of today and tomorrow, had put off the restoration of a cherished historical shrine. WPA work on hundreds of these shrines has prevented them from becoming ruins.
The WPA Education program has given work in their own field of experience to tens of thousands of unemployed teachers, keeping them fit to return to non-relief jobs, and through these teachers has brought new educational opportunities to millions of citizens.
Through a wide variety of WPA health projects, millions of needy men, women and children are able to obtain both preventive and curative medical assistance, ranging from personal care to broad public health work such as malaria control.
Existing city and rural library systems over the United States have been enlarged by the addition of 3,535 new branch libraries and 4,502 reading rooms which are staffed and kept open for public use by WPA library workers.
The extensive and varied conservation program of the WPA has provided numerous important links in the drive of many Government agencies to check the destruction of natural resources and repair the ravages of former years. It is a program of long-range benefits.
Thousands of American communities, to provide employment for women and other persons unsuited either for heavy construction or professional work, have sponsored WPA projects for the production of goods and materials.
Just as many communities have used WPA manual workers to restore historic shrines, they also have used WPA clerical and research workers to restore and preserve dusty old public records which contain not only the answers to many legal puzzles, but also a rich store of historical data.
The key to widespread achievements in research, granting proper supervision, is manpower. Under the WPA science and research program, 1,566 surveys or studies have been completed to expand the Nation's public knowledge.
More than 34,000 trained WPA recreation leaders are at work throughout the Nation aiding men, women, and children to spend their leisure time pleasurably and profitably. They have conducted, in whole or in part, more than 15,000 community centers.
Through its Federal Music Project, the WPA has provided for millions of Americans the chance to hear living music, and given public work at their own craft to musicians and music teachers in 273 cities, towns, or counties in 42 States.
The WPA Federal Theatre Project, designed to give work to the theatre's unemployed, has brought living drama to millions of people through a total of 1,501 productions of all types, in 40 cities of 22 States.
WPA artists are interpreting America to Americans through almost every form of the visual arts—from vast mosaics and murals through sculpture and easel paintings to preservation of native decorative art by the Index of American Design.
A complete portrait of the United States is rapidly taking form in the books of the American Guide Series, main item of the WPA Federal Writers' Project, through the work and talent of jobless research workers, writers, and editors.
Wherever disaster has struck in America since the WPA was created, WPA workers have formed a mobile peace army which could be shifted almost overnight from its regular tasks to battle the unruly elements or care for human refugees.
While operations of the WPA have accounted for over half of the funds used in conducting the Works Program and for about three-quarters of total Works Program employment, more than forty other Federal agencies also have conducted extensive operations of widely varied types.