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Adventure of the American Mind
Employing A Nation:
The Works Progress Administration
Adventure of the American Mind
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Adventure of the American Mind  


The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was an agency set up in 1935 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal Program. It provided legions of unemployed a job, and income and self-respect. Between the years of 1935 and 1943, the WPA provided about 8 million jobs and cost only 11 billion dollars. In eight years, the WPA built or improved tens of thousands of playgrounds, schools, hospitals and airfields. The WPA included basic work on infrastructure and built roads, bridges, buildings, and even airfields. Many of the structures build during this time are still in use today, and there is evidence of the results of the WPA all across the nation, sometimes even in your own backyard.

FDR believed that the arts were not luxuries that people should have to give up in hard times. For this reason, he earmarked WPA funds to support unemployed artists, musicians, historians, theatre people and writers. This cultural aspect of the WPA is the focus of my project.The WPA's cultural influence extends beyond the arts and literature into theatre and photography, but students will explore the Federal Writers Project and the Federal Art Project, two of the largest cultural portions of the WPA.


"Our national debt, after all, is an internal debt, owed not only by the nation but to the nation. If our children have to pay the interest they will pay that interest to themselves."

~Franklin Delano Roosevelt


Portrait of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the founder of the New Deal and major proponent of the Works Progress Administration.


"We continue to recognize the greater ability of some to earn more than others. But we do assert that the ambition of the individual to obtain for him a proper security is an ambition to be preferred to the appetite for great wealth and great power."

~Franklin Delano Roosevelt


Instructional Design Page
Unit One
Unit Two

Materials Page


Unit One:
The Federal Writers Project


Unit Two:
The Federal Art Project



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