What the Federal Writers Did


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Photo: caption follows

Federal Writers' Exhibit. Photographer unknown. Photograph, 1940. Courtesy of the National Archives. (69 N, box 18, negative 10162).

During the Project's early years, the Federal Writers produced a series of state guidebooks that offer a flavorful sampling of life in the United States. Now considered classics of Americana, these guides remain the Federal Writers' Project's best-known undertaking; many have been reissued in the past decade. But the Federal Writers' Project also left a hidden legacy. In the late 1930s, Federal Writers recorded the life stories of more than 10,000 men and women from a variety of regions, occupations and ethnic groups.


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