On view at the Municipal Archives Gallery September 2018 - March 2019

Italian Grocery Store, NYC, ca. 1937 - please credit NYC Municpal Archives.jpg

The New York City Federal Writers Project, 1935-1942

One of the boldest of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s initiatives, the Works Progress Administration (WPA), was designed to alleviate massive unemployment that overwhelmed the resources of private charities and state and local governments during the Depression.

Among the WPA’s programs was the Federal Writers Project, organized in 1935, and directed by Henry Alsberg, with a mission to employ historians, teachers, photographers and writers preserving the skills of white-collar professionals in the arts.  In New York City alone, the program employed 6,000 people.

The New York City Project was prolific, and the manuscript materials preserved at the Municipal Archives  consist of over 64 titles  meant to engage and educate  including: The Young People’s Guide to New York, How we keep our City Clean, History of WNYC, New York Industries, Architecture of New York, and FEEDING THE CITY

This exhibit presents manuscripts, images, and research materials compiled by the Federal Writers Project for a book documenting what New Yorkers ate and where the food came from.  Completed in 1939, the book was never published.

In 1993, the WPA Federal Writers’ Project collection was preserved and microfilmed with generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities.