Biography and History

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created by Executive Order on May 6, 1935. It was renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939 as it was consolidated into the Federal Works Agency. Congress ended the program in 1943. The WPA was perhaps the largest component of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The WPA was the largest employer in the country at its height. The goal of the Works Progress Administration was to establish and maintain projects benefiting the public good in order to create work for citizens who were unemployed and on relief. Many of the WPA’s projects were related to infrastructure: highways, bridges, buildings, sewers, etc. However, the WPA also employed artists and funded programs that benefited culture and history. One such program was the Federal Writers’ Project. The New Jersey Historical Records Survey was a component of the Federal Writers’ Project. The stated aim of the Historical Records Survey was “the discovery, preservation, and listing of basic materials for research in the history of the United States." Though only operational for short time, this project collected and compiled marriage and death records, court dockets, indices of laws, board meeting minutes, and inventories of archival repositories from throughout New Jersey. In addition, the New Jersey WPA also conducted an analysis of the Agricultural Administration Act under the Historical Records Survey. The analysis included determining how much acreage of farm land was being used and what types of crops were being grown in New Jersey. The historical Records Survey produced reports on the findings. While not directly related to the Historical Records Survey, the New Jersey Indian Site Survey was another project undertaken by the New Jersey WPA. From 1936 through 1941, the New Jersey WPA, in association with the Archeological Society of New Jersey, conducted archeological digs at various sites in New Jersey. The goal was to catalog, document and preserve aspects of American Indian daily life and culture.

Source: From the finding aid for MC144

  • New Jersey Works Progress Administration Records. 1896-1946 (inclusive), 1936-1943 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC144

    The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created by Executive Order on May 6, 1935. The goal of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was to establish and maintain projects benefiting the public good in order to create work for citizens who were unemployed and on relief. The New Jersey Works Progress Administration Records document the history of the New Jersey Historical Records Survey, the Agricultural Administration Act, and the Indian Site Survey of New Jersey through forms, reports, photographs, and correspondence.

  • New Jersey Works Progress Administration Records. 1896-1946 (inclusive), 1936-1943 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC144

    The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created by Executive Order on May 6, 1935. The goal of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was to establish and maintain projects benefiting the public good in order to create work for citizens who were unemployed and on relief. The New Jersey Works Progress Administration Records document the history of the New Jersey Historical Records Survey, the Agricultural Administration Act, and the Indian Site Survey of New Jersey through forms, reports, photographs, and correspondence.