09 May 2010

WPA: Historical Records Survey and genealogists

Do we, as family historians and genealogists, realize how the WPA's Historical Records Survey has helped us?

Leland Meitzler's Genealogy Blog provided an article by reference librarian Bryan L. Mulcahy of the Fort Myers-Lee County Library that detailed how one aspect of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) - the Historical Records Survey - created inventories and records of use to the entire genealogy community.

The WPA was the largest project created as a relief program during the aftermath of the Great Depression of 1929.

Workers visited archives, historical societies and libraries to compile manuscript collection inventories. They visited courthouses, town halls, offices in large cities and vital statistics offices to inventory records, and also transcribed some.

Among the databases created by the Survey were:
•Burial listing in cemeteries •Federal and state census indexes •Indexes to naturalization records
•Indexes to Newspapers
•Inventories of county courthouse records
•Descriptions of manuscripts found in various libraries
•Place-name guides
•Inventories of church records including years/content of church christening records, and names of those buried in church cemeteries
Most researchers have used many of these collections. Although the majority of materials survived, and are available to researchers, some records and indexes were deemed to be of no value and were destroyed.

Read the complete article at Leland's blog above.

1 comment:

  1. A fine treatment on the subject. I learned a couple of things, even though I've written two articles on the subject. Well done.

    Oh, my articles can be found at my website ShoeString Genealogy. Enjoy!

    Happy Dae·