August 2016 – I have been honored by and readily accepted an invitation from the National New Deal Preservation Association (NNDPA) to join their board.
As a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) researcher and author I am excited to be associated with the NNDPA, an organization whose goal is: to promote the identification, documentation, preservation and education of the Great Depression New Deal visual and performing arts, literature, crafts, structures and environmental projects and programs.
The New Deal – What and When?
It was the Great Depression – America was in the midst of an economic and environmental cataclysm previously unknown in its history.
During the 1932 presidential campaign Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) addressed the grinding despair by promising “a new deal for the American people.”
It wasn’t until after his March 1934 inauguration that the true depth of the unemployment, hunger, homelessness and poverty was truly documented. President Roosevelt was facing an unprecedented national emergency; massive in size and scope.
These were uncharted waters, the programs and ideas FDR would authorize in an effort to address this crisis were experimental and untested. Boldly stating “Above All Try Something” best describes the New Deal and what he could offer a struggling nation.
Lasting from 1933 – 1943, the numerous and varied New Deal programs, policies and work projects forever changed and bolstered a struggling nation. Over eighty years later we continue to benefit from these remarkable accomplishments.
What Were the New Deal Programs?
The New Deal Programs
In addition to the first of his work programs, the CCC, FDR would set in motion vast work projects * ones that would provide meaningful jobs for millions of people in thousands of cities, hundreds of counties and all forty-eight states.
These significant New Deal projects and programs brought to the people new schools, hospitals, parks, roads, bridges, cemeteries, swimming pools, airports, sewer and water systems, post offices, murals, sculpture, theater, art exhibits and even symphonic ensembles. During this time Federal agencies established legal rights for labor, Social Security and government protections for our bank accounts.. The Writers program gave us the series of books on the forty-eight states and the History program copied millions of census records now digitized and accessible through the National Archives .
The New Deal rescued, influenced and saved a great nation during a time of profound adversity. We owe a wealth of gratitude to those who went before us for their labor, creative genius, vision and unselfish motives. FDR was optimistic that future generations would look back and come to understand and appreciate what was accomplished to ensure the nation’s future, a future which would benefit them and their descendants.
It is a privilege to be associated with the NNDPA and other organizations that help us remember the legacy of the New Deal. Among them are the CCC Legacy organization in Edinburg, Virginia and the Living New Deal in Berkeley, California.
* The first of FDR’s work programs, which collectively are known as the New Deal, was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Others would follow – Public Works Administration (PWA), Civil Works Administration (CWA), Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA). In 1935, a time known as the Second New Deal, the massive Works Project Administration (WPA) would be created. This agency spawned the Treasury Relief Arts Project (Trap), National Youth Administration (NYA) and the Federal Arts Project (FAP) which administered the Federal Writers, Theater and Music programs. Another program, not associated with the relief projects, was the Treasury Departments administration of the Post Office murals.