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Guide to the Works Progress Administration Collection on Orange County, California, 1935-1939
MS-R010  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Organizational History
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Works Progress Administration Collection on Orange County, California,
    Date (inclusive): 1935-1939
    Collection number: MS-R010
    Creator: Works Progress Administration
    Extent: Number of containers: 15 document boxes, 3 record cartons and 1 oversize folder

    Linear feet: 15.75
    Repository: University of California, Irvine. Library. Special Collections and Archives.
    Irvine, California 92623-9557
    Abstract: The collection is comprised of reports from the historical and anthropological projects completed by the Works Progress Administration in Orange County, California from 1935 to 1939. The projects' reports reveal factual information on local history and anthropological research on Native Americans. Most reports are original or first carbon typescripts; they are illustrated with original photographs and sketches.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access

    Collection is open for research

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with Rancho Santiago College. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and University Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    Works Progress Administration Collection on Orange County, California. MS-R 10. Special Collections and Archives, The UCI Libraries, Irvine, California. Date accessed.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Acquisition Information

    Placed on permanent deposit by Rancho Santiago College in 1989.

    Processing History

    Processed by Laura Clark Brown in 1997.

    Organizational History

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1935 as a part of his New Deal to curtail the Depression's effects on the United States. The WPA attempted to provide the unemployed with jobs that allowed individuals to preserve skills or talents.
    The Federal Writers' Project (FWP), one branch of the WPA, provided work for over 6,600 unemployed writers, journalists, editors and researchers throughout the United States. Directed by Henry G. Alsberg in Washington, the FWP concentrated its efforts on the American Guide Series, comprised of travel guides for every state and for numerous municipalities and regions. The guides contained material on regional and state history, architecture, geography and commerce. Other FWP writers worked on smaller local projects, including ethnic studies, folklore collections, nature studies and local history.
    California's FWP produced California: A Guide to the Golden State, as well as guides to San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Monterey and Death Valley. In Orange County, the FWP created "A History of Orange County, California" (1936). Less than fifty years old at the time, Orange County had many living early settlers who contributed information to the historical compilation.
    The WPA in Orange County also employed anthropologists and archeologists who excavated several sites and compiled reports and lists of artifacts related primarily to Native Americans in the region.
    When the United States entered World War II, the Depression and with it the New Deal came to an end. The new war economy resulted in low unemployment and eliminated the time and money formerly available for the types of projects undertaken by the WPA.

    Scope and Content

    The collection is comprised of reports from the Historical and Anthropological projects completed by the Works Progress Administration in Orange County, California from 1935 to 1939. The projects' reports reveal factual information on local history and anthropological research on Native Americans. Most reports are original or first carbon typescripts; they illustrated with original photographs and sketches.
    The collection is organized into three series: History of Orange County, Anthropological Project, and Duplicate Originals and Photocopies. Original reports are in the first two series, and duplicates and copies of these originals are in the third series.
    The "History of Orange County, California" project attempted to document local history from 1769 to 1889 and emphasized the era before the County was formally established in 1889. The WPA produced 27 volumes of reports on such topics as historic adobe buildings, architecture, agriculture, water supply, irrigation, natural resources, commerce, transportation, cities and towns, government, notable lawsuits, education, religion, sports and recreation, biography, and the partition of Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana (the Spanish land grant that now contains the communities of Orange, Villa Park, Santa Ana, Tustin, Costa Mesa, and part of Newport Beach). Many historical reports were based on secondary sources, but some writers used primary sources as well.
    An indexed guide to the reports has been cataloged (SpCol Ref. F868.O8 U551936) and is available in Special Collections. The arrangement of the reports within the series is based on the index, which is a rough alphabetical order by title. The detailed index should be used together with this guide to navigate through the collection.
    The Anthropology project consists of 23 volumes of reports on excavations of Orange County archaeological sites; it includes lists and sketches of artifacts and photographs of the excavations. It concludes with a summary monograph, A Study of Primitive Man in Orange County and Its Coastal Areas, by Gladys E. Ashby and John W. Winterbourne. The anthropological reports are organized into two subseries: Excavation Reports and Artifacts and Native Americans.