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.
In the 21st Century, Florida is a major center for industry and tourism; however, published in 1939, the WPA Guide to Florida exhibits a rather rural and quiet state. This guide gives an interesting perspective on the Sunshine State before its explosive growth starting in the 1950s, focusing on the state’s Seminole roots and Spanish influence as well as its lush, diverse landscape.