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11 > Image 11 of Inventory of the Records of the Work Projects Administration in Kentucky

Part of Kentucky Works Progress Administration Publications

3 The WPA was strictly a works program. No aid was given B to unemployables such as the aged, blind, or crippled. These people remained the responsibility of local government until federal grants-inaid became available for aid to the aged, blind, and dependent children through the Social Security Act in 1936. Included among more than forty federal agencies cooperating in the operation of the Works Program were regular government bureaus and established emergency agencies along with newly created agencies empowered to operate work projects, such as the WPA. Reorganization_Plan No. I, of 1939, transformed the Works Progress Administration, then renamed Work Projects Administra- tion, from an independent agency to a unit of the newly created Federal Works Agency (PWA). At this same time the Public Buildings Administration, Public Roads Administration, Public Works Administration, and the United States Housing Authority were also made units of the PWA. Due to World War Il and the continued decline in unemploy- ment the Federal Works Administrator, Major General Philip B. Fleming, and President Roosevelt agreed in December l9&2 that WPA operations should be terminated as soon as possible. By June 30, l93, all projects in the states were closed. Originally intended as a coordinating agency for the Works Program the role of the WPA changed very quickly to one of leadership in providing for the nation's unemployed. During the eight years of operations the WPA provided a work relief program, remarkably free of corruption and scandal, employing about 8,500,000 needy people. This number represents 75% of all workers taken from relief rolls and placed in federal employment. It also represents only about 0% of the nation's unemployed. Work performed was of a public nature designed to maintain social services or improve community conditions. From 1939 until the United States' entry into World War II an in- creasingly large number of projects were directed toward improvements in national defense. Beginning in December 1941 all projects not vital to the national defense were terminated. A fitting epitaph can be found in a December 4, l92, letter from President Roosevelt to General Fleming: "I am proud of the Work Projects Administration organization. It has displayed courage and determination in the face of uninformed criticism .... with the satisfaction of a good job well done and with a high sense of integrity, the Work Projects Administration has asked for and earned an honorable discharge." The accom- plishments of the WPA-tangible and intangible-can be found in the many buildings still in use today and in the selfrespect restored to those forced to the limits of despair in face of an economic crisis that discriminated against no one. A