Collection Location: Maryland Department, Enoch Pratt Free Library / State Library Resource Center
Collection Overview: The Works Progress Administration (WPA), launched by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935, was the largest jobs initiative in United States history. The WPA was part of Roosevelt's New Deal, a set of U.S. government programs, laws, and reforms implemented in response to the economic crisis of the 1930s. The goal of the New Deal was to promote economic recovery and to alleviate the hardships being suffered by millions of Americans during the Great Depression. The WPA lasted eight years, during which time it provided jobs for approximately 8 1/2 million people.
The WPA employed workers in a wide range of activities. The program built and repaired many roads, bridges, parks, and buildings and made improvements to public utilities (water, waste, electricity, etc.). The WPA created literacy and arts programs, provided occupational training and housing, and distributed food and other necessities.
The photographs reproduced in this online collection were taken under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration of Maryland's Division of Operations. Although they document only a fraction of the WPA projects that occurred throughout the state, they help to convey the size and scope of the federal government's efforts during this period.