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The original item was published from 4/13/2023 2:14:00 PM to 4/20/2023 12:00:01 AM.

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Posted on: April 13, 2023

[ARCHIVED] The American Guide Series: The New Deal’s Travel Books of the 1930s - A history talk by Jim Craft


Wednesday April 19 at 7pm in the Library's Community Room.

The Federal One Project was certainly one of the most unique programs of the New Deal. It consisted of four separate agencies designed to put actors, musicians, artists and writers to work in the midst of the Great Depression. 

The Writer’s Project was varied in its output, but the central part of their work was a series of travel guides for every state. The objective was to produce a comprehensive snapshot of American life…a goal that was achieved with almost universal applause from literary critics across the country.

The books contain fascinating perspectives about American life in the 1930s when much of the country was still heavily rural and traditional mores from a pre-industrial age still abounded. Using these books to find the residue of that era is an experience that can make a road trip in Michigan or any other state incredibly rewarding.

The history of the Writer’s Project, however, is about much more than the content of the books. The difficulty in determining objectives, assembling and maintaining a functioning team in the economic and political environment of the time as well as the practical difficulties of converting the massive of amount of data into useful and entertaining books is a story in itself. 

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