Florida: the American Guide Series

Rare Books: Florida; a guide to the southernmost state

At a UCLA book sale I found a 1940 edition (1st edition, 2nd printing) of a Florida guidebook written and compiled by the Work Project Administration’s Federal Writers’ Project.

The Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) was a New Deal-era program to provide employment opportunities to skilled workers such as writers, researchers, historians, librarians, and teachers (“New Deal Programs: Selected Library of Congress Resources,” Library of Congress).

FWP writers and researchers traveled to each state and wrote detailed narrative-style surveys on each state’s population, geography, agriculture, history, its principal cities, and its major industries, etc. The guidebooks are interesting because they also include suggested driving tours that visitors can take to see points of interest–suggestions that include travel distances, suggested routes, road conditions, points of interest, and gas station locations.

This American Guide Series project took place between 1937 and 1941, producing a guidebook on each state, as well as selected cities, regions, and territories.

Related resources online
Google Books provides full text access to a 1956 edition (8th printing) of the Florida Guidebook, which includes some black and white images of Depression-era Florida.

You can read about the Work Project Administration’s American Guide Series on Wikipedia.

The Library of Congress also has a variety of online resources, manuscripts, and websites related to the New Deal and the Federal Writers’ Project.

Full Reference
Federal Writers’ Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Florida. Florida; a guide to the Southernmost State. Compiled and written by the Federal Writers’ Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Florida. New York, Oxford University Press, 1940 [c1939].


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