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Photographic representation of types of materials held in Indiana Writers' Program/Project Collection

    Indiana Writers' Project/Program Collection


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During the Great Depression of the 1930's, the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration. Writers were employed in each state as part of the Federal Writers' Project to gather information for volumes in the American Guide Series or for local guides and histories. Administrative control of these projects was turned over to the states in 1939, and the Indiana Federal Writers' Project became the Indiana Federal Writers' Program. The resulting work, Indiana: A Guide to the Hoosier State, was published in 1941 and reprinted in 1973.

Due to pressures created by the Second World War, the Indiana program was discontinued in 1943. As sponsor of the program, Indiana State Teachers College kept the files as its property. The 75,000 typescripts were moved to the new Department of Special Collections in Cunningham Memorial Library in 1973.

In the mid-1980s, sorting of the materials began based on a classification scheme used by project workers in a number of the states. The resulting 60,000 pages of non-duplicate materials were microfilmed on 31 reels of 16mm film in 1991. The microfilm set was then indexed at the folder level by topics, towns and cities, and personal names in a 1992 publication entitled Indiana Federal Writers' Project/Program Papers: Guide to the Microfilm Edition at Indiana State University . While supplies last, Guide to the Microfilm Edition is available for $15.00, shipping and handling included. Copies of individual reels or the entire set of microfilm are also available; interested researchers should contact the Special Collections Department for current pricing.

The documents and photographs available in the microfilm set are being made selectively available in the Wabash Valley Visions & Voices digital memory project. Some of the content in the boxes of materials of counties surrounding Vigo County have been digitized, and Vigo County itself is partially available. By using the link below or navigating from the general page link above to the advanced search, a user can select Indiana State University Library as a category and include search terms, e.g., a county name, which will generate images of the original documents in digital format.

The Indiana Writers Program/Project Collection is a rich source of information. For example, it contains slave narratives and eyewitness accounts to events of national as well as regional importance--Lincoln's assassination, for example. The collection has served as the basis for several books compiled or edited by Ronald G. Baker, Chairperson of the English Department, who continues to use it for research. Not yet analyzed at the document level are six linear feet of the personal papers of Ross Lockridge, who headed the Indiana Program.

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