Federal Writers’ Project Programming Resource
Susan Brandehoff | May 22, 2009
The ALA Public Programs Office is currently coordinating a project with thirty libraries around the United States called “Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story,” with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. “Soul of a People” addresses the fascinating history of a small part of Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA)—the Federal Writers’ Project. Instead of building roads and bridges, the Writers’ Project helped to create a remarkable portrait of America in words. The project produced the renowned American Guides series for each state, transcribed interviews with ordinary Americans about their lives in the 1930s, interviewed former slaves, and collected folktales and regional recipes. A ninety-minute documentary film called Soul of a People produced by Spark Media in Washington, D.C., will be broadcast nationally on the Smithsonian Network HD in September 2009.
As part of the project in libraries, the Public Programs Office has created an online “Soul of a People Site Support Notebook,” which any library interested in presenting programs on the Writers’ Project is welcome to use. This content-rich collection includes a press kit with public domain images and sample press releases, programming ideas, bibliographies, webliographies, downloadable brochures and posters, and reading and discussion guides for some Writers’ Project authors, among many other items.
If you have questions about these materials, please contact the Public Programs Office.
Susan Brandehoff is Director, Program Development and Partnerships, for the ALA Public Programs Office.