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As a result of growing popular discontent with Hoover's ·
depression policies, Franklin D. Roosevelt was swept into the
presidency in 1932. In the whirlwind activity which occured
during his famous first Hundred Days, numerous anti—depression
measures were signed into law. One of the most significant
was the Federal Emergency Relief Act of 1933 (ERA of 1933).
Creation of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration
(PERA), headed by Harry L. Hopkins, reflected Roosevelt's
view that while providing for millions of hungry and unemployed
was traditionally a state and local responsibility, the federal
government should provide emergency assistance. In contrast to
loans made by earlier relief programs, the PERA provided grants
to state governments for direct relief. Initially $500 million
were appropriated by the ERA of 1933 for distribution through
state emergency relief administrations (in Kentucky: KERA).
While the PERA made direct grants to the states it was
fully the responsibility of the states to determine the eligi-
bility of those applying and the amount of money to be
administered to any particular family case—~within PERA
regulations. PERA regulations required people on work relief
be given cash rather than payment—in-kind (clothing; foodstuffs).
Cash payment was also urged for those on direct relief.
Other federal agencies were created to administer aspects
of relief not within the realm of PERA activities. Chief among ‘
these were the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), first called
Emergency Conservation Work (ECW), and the Public Works
Administration (PWA), both created in 1933. Three agencies
were created that had administrative ties to PERA-the Civil
Works Administration (CWA), the Federal Surplus Relief Corpora-
tion (FSRC), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). (For
a discussion of CWA, CCC, PWA, and FSRC see subgroup XII
Material from Other Federal Agencies of the Depression Era.)
The FERA was a stopgap relief program designed to make
funds immediately available to those most needing them. These
direct payments filled a need but did not appreciably reduce
the numbers of unemployed. Work relief programs designed and
implemented by state and local governments with PERA funds were
‘ intended to conserve the skills and work habits, and restore
the morale and self-respect of the able—bodied unemployed.
The experience gained from the administration of PERA programs
was of considerable value in planning WPA programs.
Executive Order 7034, May 6, 1935, established the Works
Progress Administration for the "coordinated execution of the
relief program as a whole, and for the execution of that program
in such manner as to move from the relief rolls to work on such
projects or in private employment the maximum number of persons
in the shortest time possible." ‘