Wednesday, April 12, 2017
New Deal Mattresses, Sheets, Pillow Cases, Quilts, and Comforters
Above: At this WPA mattress-making project in Savannah Georgia, April 1936, workers are removing small sticks and debris from Spanish moss collected from oak trees. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.
Above: After being steamed for two hours, the moss is hung out to dry. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.
Above: A mattress is nearing completion after being filled with the Spanish moss. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.
Above: After a long day of making mattresses for low-income families, the WPA workers enjoy their dinner. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.
During the New Deal, relief workers made millions of bedding items for low-income Americans struggling through the Great Depression. For example, from 1934 to 1935, workers in the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) produced 1.3 million mattresses, 3.1 million quilts & comforters, 4 million sheets, and 5.3 million pillow cases (The Emergency Work Relief Program of the FERA, April 1, 1934 - July 1, 1935, 1935, p. 65).
Sometimes, New Deal bedding items helped after natural disasters. For example, on April 28, 1942, it was reported that WPA workers responded to a devastating tornado in Pryor, Oklahoma with "500 mattresses, 1,000 blankets, 2,000 sheets, 500 pillows and towels and more than $1,000 in food [about $15,000 in today's dollars]" ("State Disaster Relief Speeded," Miami DailyNews-Record).