1 Reply Latest reply on Mar 20, 2019 11:39 AM by Rebecca Collier

    Works Project Administration building projects


      Is there a way to find information on the construction history of WPA building projects?

        • Re: Works Project Administration building projects
          Rebecca Collier Ranger

          Dear Ms. Stump,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          For most buildings, the WPA only provided funding and there are files on microfilm that provide some information. That information consists of administrative forms, correspondence, and financial data. The local agency that owned the  building or structure would have requested funding from the WPA via a formal application process and, once approved, the WPA would have provided some portion of the funding anywhere from 25% to 100% of the cost, as well as a list of persons on relief eligible for employment. The WPA would have audited the projects on a regular basis, and finally filed a completion report when the work was done. They did not keep plans, drawings, and blueprints or rosters of those employed on the project. That kind of information would have remained in the hands of the local agency. In the intervening years many localities threw away their records in the mistaken belief that the Federal government had retained copies of everything. The records we do have are arranged alphabetically by state and then, for the most part, by Official Project Number. This can be problematic as the WPA used at least three different numbering systems and local records may reference a Registry Number or a Work Project Number instead of the Official Project Number.


          The National Archives does have indexes available on microfilm that list WPA projects in all states. These indexes are available from NARA on three separate microfilm publications. The publications are broken into the T-935, T-936, and T-937 indexes. T-935 covers the years 1935 to 1937. T-936 covers 1938 only. T-937 covers 1939 to 1942. Each index is arranged alphabetically by state and thereunder by county, and thereunder by municipality. They are available for viewing at the National Archives at College Park facility and some of NARA’s regional archives carry the rolls for the states in which they are located. These rolls are also available for purchase from NARA in a digital format. Please see NARA’s Shop Online page and follow the link to see how to order microfilm. Rolls cost $125 each to duplicate. If you search for T935, T936, or T937, you can find a pdf copy of the complete roll list in the Publication Summary.


          The rolls have been heavily circulated in the past, so you may wish to check around with local college and university libraries, historical societies, and even the state archives. For example, Texas A&M has not only all the indexes for Texas but copies of the microfilmed project files as well.


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

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