12 WPA Projects that Still Exist


The American Guide Series

The Federal Writers Project was a WPA program that employed authors, playwrights, and poets between 1935 and 1943. The project used more than 6,000 writers -- including future award-winning authors like Saul Bellow and Ralph Ellison -- to produce travel guides for each of the (then) 48 states as well as the District of Columbia. Each book in the series described the state's geography, history, and culture and was filled with maps, drawings, and pictures. Today, collectors seek many of the original volumes, which can fetch hundreds of dollars. Not bad for a series that supposedly started after a casual conversation between the WPA administrator and a writer at a cocktail party!