Works Progress Administration (WPA)

During the Depression of the 1930s many federal programs were set up to help get Americans back to work. One of these was the Works Progress Administration or WPA. Although the Depression was a difficult part of our country’s history, we can thank the WPA for some very interesting projects that might not have come about otherwise. For example, as a historian, some of the projects I run across frequently are the Historic American Building Survey; the newspaper name index at the Denver Public Library; and the incredibly detailed diorama of 1860s Denver in the Colorado History Museum — all begun as WPA projects.

In our library, we have a number of interesting publications both about the WPA and completed as WPA projects. Titles in our collection include:



  • Educational Assistance: A Report Covering Work Undertaken in the Fields of Workers’ Education and Adult Education (1939)
  • The Effect of Blanket Tax Limitation Upon the Revenue of School Districts in Colorado (1936)


  • The Relief Situation in Colorado Rural Towns and Areas (1937)
  • Rural Youth and Relief in Colorado (1936)
  • Social Security and Rural Relief in Colorado (1936)

Natural Resources


  • Tourist Travel Study (1938)


Resources not available online can be viewed in our library. Also, be sure and visit the Colorado State Archives’ Civilian Conservation Corps Collection. The CCC was another Depression-era federal program which hired young men to work on natural resources projects. Their motto was “Save the Soil, Save the Forests, Save the Young Men.”