A fascinating time capsule, this classic guide captures Alabama at a critical moment in its history between the Great Depression and World War II and its aftermath.
The WPA guide to Alabama provides a unique snapshot of 1930s Alabama life and culture. Like the other state guides in the WPA's American Guide Series, it features essays on history, economy, people, folkways, education, and other characteristics of the state, as well as general information about the towns and cities. Fifteen suggested automobile tours encourage visitors and residents to explore every corner of the state, from the Gulf Coast to the Black Belt and the Tennessee Valley, from bayous to farmlands to mountain gorges.
When it was first published in 1941, the guide went far to dispel the myth of an Alabama consisting only of cotton fields, magnolias, and plantation houses by highlighting the vibrant university life in Tuscaloosa, the modern industrial activity in Birmingham, the informality of politics in Montgomery, the cultural diversity in Alabama's port city, Mobile, and the small town life in Huntsville before it became home to the space industry. The book includes a calendar of annual events, census data, and a wealth of information useful to the traveling public of the time and enlightening to readers today. The guide lists radio stations, buses, railroads, and highways as they existed before the advent of television, interstates, and malls.
Harvey Jackson's fascinating introduction assesses the guide as a historical document and recounts the involved and sometimes controversial process by which it was researched and written. Project directors struggled to make the guide palatable to its public while still addressing such issues as poverty and race relations and recognizing the state's diversity and its rich folk culture. The result makes for compelling reading for general readers and historians alike.
The WPA Guide to 1930s Iowa
Joseph Frazier Federal Writers Project University of Iowa Press, 1938 Library of Congress F619.3.I68 2007 | Dewey Decimal 917.770432
Originally published during the Great Depression, The WPA Guide nevertheless finds much to celebrate in the heartland of America. Nearly three dozen essays highlight Iowa's demography, economy, and culture but the heart of the book is a detailed traveler's guide, organized as seventeen different tours, that directs the reader to communities of particual social and historical interest.
The WPA Guide to 1930s Montana
Work Projects Work Projects Administration University of Arizona Press, 1994 Library of Congress F732.W65 1994 | Dewey Decimal 917.860432
First published in 1939, this nostalgic guide includes chapters on Montana's natural setting, history, economy, and cultural life as of half a century ago, plus separate entries for Billings, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, and Missoula--which at the time boasted four hotels and five-cent bus fares. There then follow, in the WPA Guide tradition, 18 tours that crisscross the state and point out not only natural splendors along the way but also such noteworthy historic sites as Custer Battlefield, the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Boothill Cemetery in Virginia City, and the site of the "holing-up" shanty of Calamity Jane. Fourteen additional tours--four for roads, ten for trails--guide readers through Glacier National Park.