Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why We Need A New Deal Museum (part 9 of 10): A place to put our books, booklets, and bulletins

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

(WPA writers created many interesting books, such as this one about "The Ocean Highway" (1938). The book covers the history of many places along the Atlantic ocean route, from New Brunswick, New Jersey, to Jacksonville, Florida. Image scanned from personal collection.)

 (In the WPA's 1941 "Guide to the United States Naval Academy," the superintendent of the Academy wrote "This book fills a long felt want in providing the public with authentic information and attractive pictures of the Academy. I feel that its publication at this time is most fortunate. Rarely have there been so many and such interested visitors at the Academy. Image scanned from personal collection.)

In the book American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA, author Nick Taylor informs us that WPA writers created "at least 276 full-length books and 701 pamphlets." There are countless other publications, which we might variably call "booklets," "bulletins," "reports," etc. Currently, these publications are scattered all across the country. Wouldn't it be nice to have a New Deal museum, where all these thousands of items could be centrally located in a library / research center. Wouldn't it be nice to pull an old book off the shelf (a book about your hometown or state), go into a reading room, kick back in a recliner (yes, a recliner in a library, imagine that), and immerse yourself in another world for a few hours?

A New Deal museum could do that for you! (while also preserving, and perhaps even evaluating, the huge amounts of information and data collected by New Deal writers during the 1930s and early 1940s).

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