4 Replies Latest reply on May 26, 2018 12:11 PM by Luci J Baker Johnson

    WPA Veterans Grave Project


      Westchester County in New York has online WPA cards, typed, showing burial info on veterans of all wars.

      My subject has some curious info and I feel that if I could see the original papers/forms that the people who went out to the cemeteries filled out, it would solve a mystery. The grave is unmarked and listed as such so what made the person think that this Civil War veteran was buried there?

      Where would I find those documents? NARA? They have some WPA items at College Park but that is not listed that I can find.

        • Re: WPA Veterans Grave Project
          Rebecca Collier Ranger

          Dear Ms. Crabtree,


          Thank you for contacting the History Hub!


          There were two different kinds of cemetery projects operated by the WPA. The first was done in conjunction with the State Militia (National Guard) commands and sometimes included the Veteran’s Administration (VA). This project was intended to catalog the location of the grave of veterans of all American wars since the Revolutionary War. This information was usually then turned over to the State Militia's Historian's office. By its very nature, such a project would skip cataloging some graves in a cemetery, since many of them would not be for veterans. 


          The second type was the Cemetery and Vital Records project of the Historical Records Survey (HRS). This project was usually done by employees of the WPA's Federal Writer's Project (FWP), with the cooperation of state and county governments. These surveys also included private cemeteries on church-owned property. These surveys were intended to be all inclusive. Not every cemetery or county/church archive was surveyed. In some states every cemetery in one county was surveyed, while the county next door had none surveyed. Presumably, had WPA operations continued, all the cemeteries would have been done eventually. 


          We checked all the manuals of instruction we have for the HRS and the FWP in WPA records and none them are specific to either cemetery survey. We do not have a manual for the Veterans Grave Registration Project either. This being so, we cannot point to a written or online source that can definitely confirm or deny the assertion that only some headstones were transcribed. We believe that the idea is a mixed recollection of both projects, abetted by the intervening years.


          We suggest that begin by contacting the Westchester Historical Society or the New York National Guard.


          We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!


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          • Re: WPA Veterans Grave Project
            Cara Moore Lebonick Adventurer

            Dear Ms. Crabtree,


            You may also have luck in requesting the personnel record for any WPA employees known to work on that project. Those records are housed at the National Archives in St. Louis. The employee records always list the project number of the jobs they worked. To the best of my knowledge, sometimes the folks at College Park NARA can use that information to track specific administrative records of projects.


            Becky is absolutely correct in saying the WPA worked closely on the state and county level and those respective historical societies may have more information about the projects worked. For example, the Illinois Writers Project has many cubic feet of records in both Springfield, IL and in Chicago, IL.




            Cara Moore Lebonick

            National Archives at St. Louis

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