Monday, June 1, 2009

WPA Writers Documented Regional Differences in Food System

Interesting piece an output of the Federal Writers project!

Q What could a new WPA accomplish in terms of 1) supporting arts and culture 2) promoting a more locally-based, sustainable, high quality food system?

Concord Monitor - Diet was once function of geography:

"Among the first programs to be shut down was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's economic stimulus package for the Depression, the Works Progress Administration. The WPA put Americans to work on a wide variety of projects. One, the Federal Writers Project, operated in all 48 states and employed more than 4,500 writers, including Studs Terkel, Saul Bellow, Richard Wright, Nelson Algren, Claude McKay, Conrad Aiken, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Kenneth Patchen, John Cheever and Kenneth Rexroth.

By February 1943, when the WPA was closed down, these writers had published 1 million words about America. There were at least 276 books, some still in print and enjoyed today. In all, with pamphlets and brochures included, the group produced more than 1,000 publications.

Now the raw, unedited manuscripts of the project's last creative effort - canceled after Pearl Harbor and never assembled - was contained in the gray boxes before me. That ambitious effort explored the social and gastronomic traditions of American food. Novelists, anthropologists, out-of-work reporters, teachers, secretaries, typists and penniless people who had always wanted to be writers were instructed to send in recipes, interviews, stories of parties and picnics, pancake breakfasts and weddings, and anything else they could find that had something to do with food and eating in America."

Read rest of article

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WPA Posters

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