Education

University of Kentucky celebrates historic WPA collection

WPA road projects such as the work on Maple Street in Marion, in Crittenden County, provided jobs during the Great Depression.
WPA road projects such as the work on Maple Street in Marion, in Crittenden County, provided jobs during the Great Depression.

Records and publications that chronicle the Works Progress Administration, which provided millions of jobs at the height of the Great Depression, have found a home at the University of Kentucky.

Three years in the making, the collection is among the most complete in the United States, said Sandee McAninch, head of the UK Federal Depository Unit.

U.S. Archivist David S. Ferriero will present a speech to highlight the collection, titled "Putting America Back to Work During the Great Depression," at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at UK's William T. Young Library.

The WPA, the most ambitious project of the New Deal, provided nearly 8 million jobs in America from 1935 to 1943. The goal was to provide one paying job to each family that had suffered from long-term unemployment. According to UK's Web site, WPA construction and renovation projects on libraries alone employed more than 27,000 people by 1940.

UK's WPA collection includes more than 2,000 publications from the mid-1930s to the 1970s.

It also includes the Goodman-Paxton Photographic Collection of George H. Goodman and Edwin J. Paxton, owners of the Paducah News-Democrat. It contains Paxton's correspondence and materials from Goodman's tenure as Kentucky director of the WPA from 1934 through 1941, including thousands of photographs of projects throughout Kentucky.

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