Minnesota Wilderness


Funded by the federal government and printed by the states themselves, The American Guide Series was a project of the FWP which chronicled, uniformly, the history and culture of all 48 states. Complete with a portfolio of photographs and a listing of every major city and town, the guides, which are for the most part available courtesy of Google, provide a graphic and written rendering of an America right before WW II.

Some history in The WPA Guide to Louisiana




The American Guide Project altogether employed more than 6,000 writers, and included contributions from then-unknown writers Richard Wright, Saul Bellow, and Ralph Ellison. Some of my favorite titles include “Here’s New England! A Guide to Vacationland” andColorado: A Guide to the Highest State”.



In terms of some recent efforts to get America writing again, David Taylor, author of Soul of a People: The WPA Writers’ Project Uncovers Depression America, has pointed out West Virginia’s “use of federal stimulus money to fund journalism students to travel within the state and record oral histories.” The two Americorps who are the recipients of these funds (I’m a recent Americorps Alum and am totally jealous of this project), have started a Kickstarter to help them “travel US 219 gathering oral histories to create an online and print guide of the Allegheny mountains, and the stories of those who have worked, traveled and lived along this road.”

Here’s hoping they also create some new woodcuts.

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