THE W.P.A. AND OTHER WORK AGENCIES
The present chapter will be concerned primarily with that major work relief agency, the Work Projects Administration, but it will deal incidentally with other work programs undertaken partially to furnish employment and thus relieve need resulting from the depression. We shall attempt to outline the evolution of W.P.A. and then take up what appear to us to be the major issues that developed.
Prior to 1929 the national government had no direct responsibility for relief except with respect to its Indian wards and occasionally with respect to victims of disasters. When unemployment resulting from the depression reached disaster magnitudes and caught both local and state governments almost entirely unprepared legally, financially, and administratively, the demand arose for federal action to help meet the emergency. Three things were asked of the national government: (1) that it should adopt legislation that would restore the functioning of the economic system, (2) that it should stimulate the immediate construction of various types of facilities by public or private agencies to create employment, and (3) that it should share with the states and the local governments the costs of relief. These three demands were obviously not separate and distinct but were intimately interrelated. All were devices to attain the same basic objectives, restoration of employment and relief for those in need.
The fact that the objectives were common and the devices interrelated explains why all the devices were used more or less simultaneously. The W.P.A. with which we are immediately concerned, gradually emerged out of the welter of experimentation and assumed its distinctive form. It was not planned, blue printed, and organized in accordance with predetermined prin-