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The Beginning of the WPA

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The Beginning of the WPA

Short | 02:06

Nearly 8 million Americans were employed through the WPA. After years of being on relief, citizens now had the opportunity to pull themselves out of the mire of the Great Depression.

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In the grip of the Great Depression, WPA writers searched for America and discovered the Soul of a People. This show explores one of the most controversial public assistance programs of its time and shows nothing less than the creation of America's first ever self-portrait.


  • Vardis Fisher
  • John Cheever
  • Jim Thompson
  • Ralph Ellison
  • Richard Wright
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Anzia Yezierska
  • Vardis Fisher

    Vardis Fisher

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    An independent-minded freethinker, Vardis Fisher became one of the foremost voices of the American West, and one of the most prolific American authors. After losing a teaching position and with his novels ignored by the Eastern literary establishment, Fisher found himself with no choice but to join the Writers' Project, where he wrote almost the entire Idaho Guide himself. Fisher went on to publish several acclaimed novels including Children of God, which won the 1939 Harper Prize for Fiction, and Mountain Man, which was adapted into the popular film, Jeremiah Johnson, starring Robert Redford.
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