Monday, October 17, 2016

New Deal Book Projects

Above: The description for this photograph (ca. 1935-1940) reads, "One of the several stack rooms at Morgan State College Library [Maryland] and three of the girls employed on the NYA [National Youth Administration] out-of-school work program. At the typewriter is Miss Geraldine Hawkins typing shelf list cards. In the center is Miss Ida Tyler whose principal activity is the preparation and checking of periodicals for binding. In the background is Miss Rose Smith whose activities include pasting book plates, embossing and listing gift books." Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: The description for this 1939 photograph reads, "This NYA girl is in the process of shellacking a new book for the school library of the [San Francisco] State College. This was done as a preservative measure after the books were catalogued and filed." Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: "[WPA] Poster promoting reading as an avenue to adventure, showing a knight in armor and fleur-de-lis." Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: "Stream in [Franklin] County, Kentucky - main trail for horseback librarians. A few miles beyond this point, the librarians part, taking four trails into the mountains." During the New Deal, work-relief programs like the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the WPA hired unemployed librarians to deliver books and magazines to remote rural areas. Photo (ca. 1933-1935) courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: "Memorial Library, Williamsport, Maryland - This library was built [by WPA workers] as a memorial for the fourteen Williamsport High School students who were killed in the tragic bus accident at Rockville, Maryland. The library is located in the Community Park. The building is constructed of semi-fireproof material - red brick walls, with ornamental doors and windows, and portico painted white. There are about 1200 sq. ft. of floor space on the first floor, divided into library room, adults reading room, and children's reading room. In the basement there is an exhibition hall and lecture room and public comfort stations." Across the country, WPA workers built or improved over 1,000 libraries. Photo (1938) courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: A WPA poster encouraging Americans to read books about African Americans and their contributions to the country. Note the soldier and the Tuskegee Airman. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: A WPA bookmobile awaits customers in Bayou du Large, Louisiana, ca. 1935-1943. As this photo shows, there was a great hunger in rural America for books, news, magazines, and information. Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library & Museum and the New Deal Network.

Above: "Reading to the illiterate is all in a day's work for the Works Progress Administration's Pack Horse Librarians in the Kentucky mountains. Most of the people yearn to have the Bible or other religious works read to them." This photo also shows how the New Deal tried to bring Americans closer together. In today's America, if you suggested that the federal government pay unemployed librarians to read to illiterate or lonely citizens, you'd be laughed out of the room. Today, after decades of Ayn Rand's toxic philosophies, and decades of trickle-down economics, many Americans are more likely to scold and ridicule those in need, calling them "parasites," "takers," or "weak." Maybe that's why record numbers of our fellow citizens are committing suicide and dying deaths of despair. After shunning the New Deal, and embracing hyper-individualism instead, we're becoming a happily coarse and mean-spirited culture. And while it's true that we've always had nasty elements in our society, the New Deal worked hard to change that. And so it's sad to see how we've turned away from (and forgotten) the New Deal, and embraced the sociopathic tenets of Reaganism and Neoliberalism instead. Photo (1938) courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.

Above: A WPA poster promoting a book written by the WPA's Federal Writers' Project. WPA writers created about 1,500 books, booklets, brochures, magazine articles, etc. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: The WPA made "talking books," so that blind Americans could enjoy books too. The WPA also transcribed books into Braille. Photo taken in Washington, DC, 1938. Courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.

Above: Two Maryland women on a WPA book repair project, ca. 1935-1943. Across the nation, WPA workers repaired over 94 million books. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.

Above: A poster advertising a WPA "story hour" project in Illinois, ca. 1936-1939. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: The New Deal not only built libraries, but staffed them too. Here, two workers in the National Youth Administration (NYA) check in books at the Franklin High School library, Los Angeles, California, ca. 1935-1943. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: "NYA girls at Anne Wallace branch of the Atlanta Public Library cleaning, repairing and cataloguing some of the 10,000 books donated to the NYA in Atlanta for rural libraries in districts where there are no library facilities. In the small towns and villages where WPA and NYA maintain these libraries they are bringing to poor under-privileged whites and negroes the opportunity to read which they have seldom had before and which they are eager to have." Photo (1936) courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.

Above: October is a good time to read! WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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