Wednesday, February 8, 2017

National Youth Administration Training. "The yield on this investment should be high."

Above: The description for this 1940 photograph reads, "Typical of the work experience offered James DeSoto through his National Youth Administration employment as a helper in the Fresno [California] city shops is this photo showing city mechanic W.C. Scott explaining installation of special equipment on Fresno's new police cars." Between 1935 and 1943, millions of young men and women earned a small paycheck and learned a lot of new skills in the National Youth Administration. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: "NYA girl preparing to become an air mechanic in a work shop in South Charleston, West Virginia." Photo taken ca. 1935-1943, provided courtesy of the National Archives.

"I have determined that we shall do something for the Nation's unemployed youth because we can ill afford to lose the skill and energy of these young men and women. They must have their chance in school, their turn as apprentices and their opportunity for jobs—a chance to work and earn for themselves. In recognition of this great national need, I have established a National Youth Administration, to be under the Works Progress Administration... The yield on this investment should be high."

--President Roosevelt, Statement on the National Youth Administration, June 26, 1935. The yield on the investment was indeed high. Members of the National Youth Administration grew up to be part of America's "Greatest Generation." Many NYA men & women served in the armed forces and defense industries during World War II. For example, many women who had learned industrial skills in the NYA became "Rosie the Riveters" and "Wendy the Welders" during the war years. And this is in addition to all the tens of thousands of projects that youth engaged in during their actual time in the NYA - infrastructure, recreational leadership, scientific studies, forestry work, and much more.

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