5 Replies Latest reply on Jun 16, 2017 10:28 AM by Rebecca Collier

    WPA archives


      I'm trying to locate WPA archive #3684, that interviewed African Americans in Chicago in the 1930s - any ideas how to find this specific record?

        • Re: WPA archives

          Was this part of the Former Slave Narrative Project that was carried out by the WPA in several states, or was this another WPA project, or a project specific to Chicago?

          • Re: WPA archives
            Research Services at the National Archives Tracker

            Dear Ms. Brinegar,

            Thank you for your question to History Hub.  While the dissertation you referenced in your response to Lauren Van Zandt was not located in a cursory internet search, it (or the topic it concerns) is excerpted on JSTOR in an article the author, Vattel Elbert Daniel, published in the American Sociological Review in June of 1942, called “Ritual and Stratification in Chicago Negro Churches.”  The citation and project number you reference in your original request occurs there on page two under citation three: “WPA Project #3684” (https://www.jstor.org/stable/2085364).

            The project number referenced by you and the author does not appear in a search of the Work Projects Administration’s records here at the National Archives in Record Group (RG) 69, but the citation and your request matches a project undertaken by the WPA to study African-American churches and associations in Chicago: “Churches and Voluntary Associations in the Chicago Negro Community,” by St.Clair Drake, referenced in our records as WPA Project #465-54-3-386.  If this is the case, while we have the hard copy of the project in our records, it has also been archived digitally by the Paul V. Galvin Library at the Illinois Institute of Technology on the internet at https://archive.org/details/churchesvoluntar00drak.  You can digitally download and read all 666 pages produced by the project there to see if it included interviews with the city’s African-American citizens at the time.

            In addition to this specific project, the WPA undertook additional activities in the Chicago area, and many of those may have records you seek based on interviews with African-Americans living in Chicago during that time period.  A specific search of our records revealed RG 69, PC-37 31, “WPA Library and Archives: State Project Reports and Research Publications, ca. 1935-1943.”  These are arranged by state with several boxes in the entry pertaining to WPA projects undertaken in the state of Illinois, with about half of those projects occurring in Chicago and Cook County according to the available statistics taken by the WPA.  Keep in mind that these projects run the gamut intervening in many different services offered by the city of Chicago at that time, so most of them will not be particularly germane to your interests, but an additional search in this record entry and others from RG 69 could bear fruit.

            You may wish to contact the Textual Reference Branch at Archives II for more information. Please contact them via email at Archivesiireference@nara.gov especially if you intend to make a trip to the facility in College Park. They can also refer you to researchers you can hire or provide an estimate for reproductions if you are unable to make it here in person. More information on the services these services is available at https://www.archives.gov/research/order/textual-records-dc.html.

            Best of luck on your research!


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