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American Guide Series: The WPA Federal Writers' Project: Welcome

Welcome

In the first 100 days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term in office, the so-called New Deal agencies were launched to counter the great depression of the 1930s.  Of the approximately 100 administrations, commissions and projects that were initiated, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) [also called Work Projects Administration (1939-1943)] was the largest. One of many projects undertaken by the WPA was the Federal Writers' Project.  

The American Guide Series was a subset of works produced by the Federal Writers' Project (FWP) and and is one of the most well-known FWP projects.  The American Guide Series Books, created through a cooperative effort of both Federal and State organizations, are part travel guide, part almanac. Each includes illustrations and photographs and offers a fascinating snapshot of the 48 United States in the Union, and Alaska, in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Additionally there are guides covering some of the major cities and some smaller ones, and a selection that focuses on inter-state adventures. 

Please take a moment to review the contents of this library guide. Comments and suggestions are welcome. Click the guide info tab, above, for contact details.

American Guides Poster

The Guides

Guides for States, Cities, and Inter-State (City Guides are listed with the State in which they are located)

 

Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Alabama. 
Sponsored by the Alabama State Planning Commission

Library Call No. F 326 W7 1973

Full Text online, 1941 edition (HathiTrust)


 

A Guide to Alaska: Last American Frontier 
by Merle Colby, Federal Writers' Project
John W. Troy, Governor of Alaska, Sponsor

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)

 


 

Arizona: A State Guide
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Arizona
Sponsored by the Arizona State Teacher's College at Flagstaff

Library Call No.: F809 W7 1972 

Full Text online, 1940 edition (Internet Archive)

 

 

Califoria

 

California: A Guide to the Golden State
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Wo
rks Progress Administration for the State of California

Sponsored by Mabel R. Gillis, California State Librarian

Library Call No.F 859.3 F4 1972

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)



Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State

Originally Compiled by the Federal Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration of the State of Colorado
Sponsored by The Colorado State Planning Commission

Library Call Nos.:

F781 W9 1973

F 781.2 C64 1970

Full Text online (Google Books) 
 


Connecticut: A Guide to Its Roads, Lore, and People
Written by Workers of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Connecticut, Sponsored by Wilbur L. Cross, Governor of Connecticut

Library Call No.: F 100 F45 1973 

Full Text online, 1938 edition (Internet Archive) 
 

 

 

Delaware: A Guide to the First State
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Delaware

Sponsored by Edward W. Cooch, Lieutenant Governor

 

Library Call Nos.:

F164 F45 1955       

F164 F45 1973  

 

Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State
Compiled
by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration

LC Call Number: F316. F3. Currently not available in Library nor online. 

Request printed copy through Inter-Library loan at the academic or public library with which you are affiliated.

 

Georgia: A Guide to Its Towns and Countryside
Compiled and Written by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Georgia
Sponsored by the Georgia Board of Education

Library Call No. F 291 W94 1973

Full Text online, a revised and extended version, 1954 (Internet Archive)


Atlanta: A City of the Modern South
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Georgia
Sponsored by the Board of Education of the City of Atlanta

Library Call No.: F294 A8 W8 1973

Full Text online, 1942 edition (Internet Archive)

 


Savannah
Compiled and Written by Savannah Unit, Federal Writers' Project in Georgia Works Progress Administration
Sponsored by Chamber of Commerce, Savannah

Full Text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive)

Idaho: A Guide in Word and Picture
Prepared by the Federal Writers' Program of the Works Progress Administration
Sponsored by Vardis Fisher, State Director

Library Call No.: F 586 W97 1973 

Full Text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive)

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Illinois: A Descriptive and Historical Guide
Complied and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the 
Work Projects Administration for the State of Illinois

Sponsored by Henry Horner, Governor

Library Call No.: F546 F45 1973

Full Text online, 1947 edition (Internet Archive)

 


    Princeton (IL) Guide
   Federal Writers' Project (Illinois)
   Sponsored by the City of Princeton

   Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)  

 


Indiana: A guide to the Hoosier State
Compiled by workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Indiana
Sponsored by the Dept. of Public Relations of Indiana State Teachers College 

Library Call No. F526 W93 1973

Full Text online, 1941 edition (HathiTrust)


Iowa: A Guide to the Hawkeye State
Complied and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Iowa
Sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Association

Full Text online, 1938 edition (Internet Archive)

Kansas: A Guide to the Sunflower State
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Kansas
Sponsored by State Department of Education

Library Call No.: F 586 W97 1973 

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)

 


Kentucky: A Guide to the Bluegrass State

Compiled and Written by Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Kentucky
Sponsored by the University of Kentucky

Library Call No. F 456 F44 1973

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)

Louisiana: A Guide to the State
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Louisiana

Sponsored by the Louisiana Library Commission at Baton Rouge

Library Call No. F375 W8 1973

Full Text online, 1941 edition (HathiTrust)


New Orleans City Guide
Written and compiled by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the City of New Orleans
Robert Maestri, Mayor of the City of New Orleans, Co-operating Sponsor

Library Call No. F379 N53 F 42 1972 

Full Text online, 1938 edition (Internet Archive)

Maine: A Guide "Down East"
Written by Workers of the Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Maine
Sponsored by the Maine Development Commission

Library Call No.: F 17.3 F42 1972

Full Text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive)


Maryland: A Guide to the Old Line State
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Maryland
Sponsored by Herbert R. O'Connor, Governor of Maryland

Library Call No.: F181 W75 1973

Ful text online, 1940 edition (Internet Archive)


Massachusetts: A Guide to Its Places and People 
Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration of Massachusetts
Frederick W. Cook, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Cooperating Sponsor

Library Call No,: F70 F295 1972 

Full Text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive)

 


Michigan: A Guide to the Wolverine State
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Michigan
Sponsored by the Michigan State Administrative Board

Library Call No. F 566 W9 1973


Mississippi: A Guide to the Magnolia State
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration
Sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Association

Library Call No.: F 586 W97 1973 

Full Text online, 1938 edition (Internet Archive) 


Missouri: A Guide to the "Show Me" State
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Missouri
Sponsored by the Missouri State Highway Department

Library Call Nos.:  

F466 W85  

F 466 W85 1973

Full Text online, 1941 edition (Internet Archive)


Montana: A State Guide Book

Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Montana
Sponsored by Department of Agriculture, Labor, and Industry, State of Montana

Library Call No.:  F731 F44 1973

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)

 

Nebraska: A Guide to the Cornhusker State
Compiled and written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Nebraska
Sponsored by the State Historical Society

Full Text online, 1939 edition (HathiTrust)


Nevada: A Guide to the Silver State

Compiled by workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Nevada
Sponsored by Dr. Jeanne Elizabeth Wiser, Nevada State Historical Society, Inc.

Library Call No.: F 841 W77 1973

Full Text online, 1940 edition (HathiTrust)


New Hampshire: A Guide to the Granite State
Written by Workers of the Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of New Hampshire
Francis P. Murphy, Governor of New Hampshire, Co-operating Sponsor

Library Call no.: F32.3 W74X

Full Text online, 1938 edition (Internet Archive)


New Jersey: A Guide to Its Present and Past
Compiled and Written by the Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Georgia
Sponsored by the Public Library of Newark and the New Jersey Guild Associates

Library Call No.: F132.3 F43 1977  (New Revised Edition, 1977)

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)


New Mexico: A Guide to the Colorful State
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of New Mexico
Sponsored by the University of New Mexico

Full Text online, 1940 edition (HathiTrust) 

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New York: A Guide to the Empire State
Compiled and Written by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of New York
Sponsored by the New York State Historical Society

Library Call No.: F 124 W89 1972

Full Text online, 1940 edition (HathiTrust)

 


Duchess County
Compiled by the Workers of the Duchess County Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration in the State of New York
Sponsored by The Women's City and County Club of Duchess County New York

 

Full Text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive)


New York City Guide
A Comprehensive guide to the Five Boroughs of the Metropolis--Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Richmond (now commonly referred to as Staten Island)
Prepared by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration in New York City
Sponsored by the Guilds Committee

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)


Rochester and Monroe County
Federal Writers' Project, Works Progress Administration, State of New York
Sponsored by the City of Rochester and the Genesee Book Club

Full Text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive)

 


North Carolina: A Guide to the Old North State
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of North Carolina
Sponsored by the Georgia Board of Education

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)


North Dakota: A Guide to the Northern Prairie State
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration

Full Text online, 1938 edition (Project Gutenberg)

The Ohio Guide
Complied by workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration

Request hard copy through Inter-Library loan at the academic or public library with which you are affiliated.


Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors
Complied by workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Ohio
Sponsored by the City of Cincinnati, Ohio

Library Call No.: F 499 C5 W93 1973

Full Text online, 1943 edition (HathiTrust)

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Oklahoma: Guide to the Sooner State
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Oklahoma

Sponsored by the University of Oklahoma

Library Call No.: F694 W85

Full Text online, 1941 edition (Internet Archive) 

 


Oregon: End of the Trail
Complied by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Oregon
Sponsored by the Oregon State Board of Control

Library Call No.: F 881 W76 1972 

Full Text online, 1940 edition (Internet Archive)

Pennsylvania: A Guide to the Keystone State


Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration.

Full Text online, 1940 edition (Penn State University Libraries)


Philadelphia: A Guide to the Nation's Birthplace

Compiled by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission

Library Call No. F 158.5 F53

Full Text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive)
 


Erie: A Guide to the City and County
Written and compiled by the Erie County unit of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Sponsored by Charlie R. Barber, Mayor of Erie

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)

Rhode Island: A Guide to the Smallest State
Written by Workers of the Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Rhode Island, 
Sponsored by Louis W. Cappelli, Secretary of State, Chairman of the Sponsoring Committee.

Full Text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive) 

South Carolina: A Guide to the Palmetto State
Complied by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of South Carolina

Sponsored by Burnet R. Maybank, Governor of South Carolina

Full Text online, 1946 reprint of 1941 edition (Internet Archive) 

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A South Dakota Guide 
Compiled by the Federal Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration, State of South Dakota
Sponsored by the State of South Dakota

Full Text online, 1938 edition (Internet Archive)

Tennessee: A Guide To The State
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Tennessee
Sponsored by the Department of Conservation, Division of Information

Library Call No.: F 436 F45 1973 

Full Text online, 1939 edition (HathiTrust)

 


Texas: A Guide to the Lone Star State
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Texas

Sponsored by the Texas State Highway Commission

Full Text online, 1940 edition (Internet Archive) 

Utah: A Guide to the State
Complied by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Utah

Sponsored by the Utah State Institute of Fine Arts. Co-sponsored by the Salt Lake County Commission

Library Call No.: F 824.3 W74 1972 

Full Text online, 1945 reprint of 1941 edition (HathiTrust)

Vermont: A Guide to the green Mountain State
Written by Workers of the Federal Writers' Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Vermont
Sponsored by the Vermont State Planning Board

Library Call No.: F54 F45 1973 

Full Text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive)

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Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion
Complied by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Virginia

Sponsored by Virginia State Library and Archives in cooperation with the Virginia Center for the Book

Library Call No.: F226 V894 1992

Full Text online, HTML version of 1992 revised edition (American Studies Programs at the University of Virginia)


Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State
Compiled by workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Washington
Sponsored by the Washington State Historical Society

Library Call No.: F 586 W97 1973 

Full Text online, 1941 edition (HathiTrust)


Washington: City and Capital
Federal Writers' Project, Works Progress Administration

Full Text online, 1937 edition (HathiTrust)

 


West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State
Compiled by workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of West Virginia
Sponsored by the Conservation Commission of West Virginia

Library Call No.: F 586  1973 

Full Text online, Trinity University Press 2014 reprint of the 1941 edition (ProQuest - Rowan University only)

 


Wisconsin: A Guide to the Badger State
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Wisconsin
Sponsored by the Wisconsin Library Association

Library Call No.: F 586 W97 1973 

Full Text online, 1941 edition (HathiTrust)


Wyoming: A Guide to Its History, Highways, and People
Compiled by workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Wyoming
Sponsored by the DR. Lester C. Hunt, Secretary of State

Request print copy through Inter-Library loan at the academic or public library with which you are affiliated.

 

Atlanta, GA  | Boston Loccks Seward|  Cincinnati, OH  |  Duchess County  |  Erie, PA  |  Fairhaven, MA  |  Los Angeles, CA 

 Miami & Dade Co, FL  |  New Orleans, LA  |  New York City  |  Philadelphia, PA  |  Princeton, IL  |  Rochester & Monroe Cty, NY

San Francisco, CA   |  Savannah, GA  |  Washington: City & Capital


Atlanta: A City of the Modern South
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Georgia
Sponsored by the Board of Education of the City of Atlanta

Library Call No.: F294 A8 W8 1973

Full Text online, 1942 edition (Internet Archive)


Boston Looks Seaward: The Story of a Port, 1630-1940
Compiled by Workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Massachusetts
Sponsored by the Boston Port Authority

Full Text online, 1941 edition (Internet Archive)


Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors
Complied by workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Ohio
Sponsored by the City of Cincinnati, Ohio

Library Call No.: F 499 C5 W93 1973

Full Text online, 1943 edition (HathiTrust)

 


Duchess County
Compiled by the Workers of the Duchess County Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration in the State of New York
Sponsored by The Women's City and County Club of Duchess County New York

 

Full Text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive)



Erie: A Guide to the City and County

Written and compiled by the Erie County unit of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Sponsored by Charlie R. Barber, Mayor of Erie

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)

 


Fairhaven , Massachusetts
Compiled and Written by Members of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration
Sponsored by the Board of Selectmen of Fairhaven

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)

 


 

Los Angeles: A Guide to the City and its Environs
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration in Southern California
Sponsored by the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors

Library Call No.F 869 L83 W74 1972

Full Text online, 1941 edition (Internet Archive) 


Miami and Dade County, including Miami Beach and Coral Gables
Compiled by Writers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Florida
Sponsored by the Florida State Planning Board

Full Text online, 1941 edition (Internet Archive) 


New Orleans City Guide
Written and compiled by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the City of New Orleans
Robert Maestri, Mayor of the City of New Orleans, Co-operating Sponsor

Library Call No. F379 N53 F 42 1972 

Full Text online, 1938 edition (Internet Archive)


New York City Guide
A Comprehensive guide to the Five Boroughs of the Metropolis--Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Richmond (now commonly referred to as Staten Island)
Prepared by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration in New York City
Sponsored by the Guilds Committee

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)


Philadelphia: A Guide to the Nation's Birthplace

Compiled by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission

Library Call No. F 158.5 F53

Full text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive)


 

Princeton (IL) Guide
Federal Writers' Project (Illinois)
Sponsored by the City of Princeton

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)  


Rochester and Monroe County
Federal Writers' Project, Works Progress Administration, State of New York
Sponsored by the City of Rochester and the Genesee Book Club

Full Text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive)


Savannah
Compiled and Written by Savannah Unit, Federal Writers' Project in Georgia Works Progress Administration
Sponsored by Chamber of Commerce, Savannah

Full Text online, 1937 edition (Internet Archive)


 

San Francisco: The Bay and Its Cities
Compiled and Written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration in Northern California
Sponsored by the City and County of San Francisco

Library Call No. F 869 S3 W95 1972

Full Text online, 1940 edition (Internet Archive)


Washington: City and Capital
Federal Writers' Project, Works Progress Administration

Full Text online, 1937 edition (HathiTrust)

Here's New England!: A Guide to Vacationland
Written and Compiled by Members of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration in the New England States
Sponsored by The New England Council, Boston 

Library Call No.: F2.3 F42 1973

Full Text online, 1939 edition  (Internet Archive)


The Ocean Highway: New Brunswick, New Jersey to Jacksonville, Florida

Compiled and written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration
Sponsored by Charles L. Terry Jr., Secretary of State of Delaware

Library Call No.: F 106 F44 1972

Full Text online, 1938 edition (Internet Archive)

 


The Oregon Trail: The Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean
Compiled and written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration
Sponsored by the Oregon Trail Memorial Association, Inc.

Library Call Nos.:  

F880 F28                       

F 874.3 F4 1972   

Full Text online, 1939 edition (Internet Archive)


U.S. One: Main to Florida
Compiled and written by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration
Sponsored by the U.S. No.1 Highway Association

Full Text online, 1938 edition (Internet Archive)
 

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The Writer's Project

Materials in the American Guide Series are cataloged under the call numbers F1 to F975.

Online

The American Guide Series
A description of each of the guides from the US Senate Website (PDF) 

American Life Histories: The Federal Writers' Project

Celebrating New Deal Arts and Culture: The Federal Writers' Project (archived URL)

 


Text (not online)

Bold, Christine.  The W.P.A. Guides: Mapping America. 1999.  Univesity Press Of Mississippi, Jackson. ISBN: 1578061954
   Library Call No.: E175.4 B65 1999

Mangione, Jerre.  The Dream and the Deal. 1972.  Little Brown and Company, Boston. ISBN: 0316545007
   Library Call No.: E175.4 W9 M3 

Penkower, Monty Noam.  The Federal Writers' Project: A Study in Government Patronage of the Arts. 1977. University of Illinois Press, Urana.
   ISBN:978-0252006104   

 

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Guide Info

This Library Research Guide was developed and is maintained by Bruce Whitham. It is posted on the Rowan University Libraries' Research Guides site to introduce a fascinating series of guides (the "American Guide Series"), produced by workers in the Federal Writers' Project, one of many projects of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) [also called Work Projects Administration (1939-1943)]. This Research Guide contains details regarding each guide in the American Guide Series--there is one guide for each of the 48 States of the Union and Alaska, guides for several cities, and a few inter-state special guides-- produced in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Rowan University Libraries'  Research Guides are hosted on the Springshare LibGuides Portal, to which Rowan University Libraries subscribes.  Please send comments, suggestions, and corrections to Bruce Whitham via email.

Rowan University makes no claim to freely available websites nor does it accept responsibility for the information or opinions expressed by those who have created or authored the content or by those who are quoted on the sites.

The use of this guide infers acceptance of the Terms of Use, spelled out on the Rowan University Libraries site. If you do not agree to abide by these terms you are required to leave the site.

 


Credits

 

Full text is available through Open Library and the Internet Archive

Posters of California and Illinois Writers' Project promoting the State Guides, and the poster promoting the series, come from the Library of Congress WPA Posters Website.

Bruce Whitham's picture
Bruce Whitham
Contact:
Research & Instructional Services
(856) 256-4979