During the 1930s in the United States, the Works Progress Administration developed the Federal Writers’ Project to support writers and artists while making a national effort to document the country’s shared history and culture. The American Guide series consists of individual guides to each of the states. Little-known authorsmany of whom would later become celebrated literary figureswere commissioned to write these important books. John Steinbeck, Saul Bellow, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ralph Ellison are among the more than 6,000 writers, editors, historians, and researchers who documented this celebration of local histories. Photographs, drawings, driving tours, detailed descriptions of towns, and rich cultural details exhibit each state’s unique flavor.
The WPA Guide the Alaskan Territory takes the reader on a journey across the Land of the Midnight Sun, from the North Slope to the Aleutian Islands. First published in 1939, the guide reports on all the things that make this soon-to-be state unique: the influence of Alaska’s indigenous peoples, the thriving fishing industry, and the distinctive flora and fauna.