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United States. Work Projects Administration (Iowa) Photographs

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS-0260

Scope and Content

This collection (1933-1940, undated) contains 1271 photographs of Work Projects Administration (WPA) projects done in Iowa. Material relating to the Iowa WPA, including brochures, statistical graphs, and flyers are also included.

Of special note are the photographs of a visit made by the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, to Des Moines, Iowa on June 8th, 1936. Her main purpose in visiting the city was to deliver a commencement address at Drake University, but a portion of her day was devoted to viewing WPA project sites. These sites included a sewing room, a riverfront improvement project, and the Negro Community Center at 15th and Crocker. Photographs of Mrs. Roosevelt at these sites can be found in file 8/49.

Content Warning: This collection contains outdated language and racist imagery (blackface).


  • 1933-1940, undated


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


The Works Progress Administration (later changed to the Work Projects Administration) was created by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins as part of the New Deal in the 1930s to help Americans find work during the nation-wide depression. The organization was responsible for feeding and clothing many families during the depression, and for providing one if not both parents with employment. In Iowa, the WPA provided jobs through a number of public works projects, including the Rural Sanitation Program, Sewing Rooms, airport construction, an adult education program, road construction projects, disposal and purification plants, playground and parks projects, swimming pool construction, dam repair and construction, sewer and water main maintenance, stadium and bleacher repair, school building repairs and renovations, bridge-building projects, and gravel and quarry pit maintenance featured throughout the state. The WPA provided both men and women with jobs and also held workshops for children through their National Youth Administration Program. Each county in Iowa sponsored several projects simultaneously.


4.2 Linear Feet (10 document boxes)


The Work Projects Administration (WPA) was an organization mandated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, as part of the New Deal. The WPA was organized to provide infrastructure upgrades, clothing, and jobs to thousands of men and women across the United States. In Iowa, the WPA operated during the years 1935-1940. This collection contains black and white photographs of different WPA projects as they're implemented across Iowa, in both rural and urban areas. Projects range from the repaving of roads, construction of public office and school buildings, to swimming pools, dams, and bridges.


The collection is organized into two series:

Series 1, Projects by Location, 1935-1938, undated (alphabetical)

Series 2, Projects by Subject, 1933-1940, undated (alphabetical)

Items in related collections

MS-0409. United States. Works Progress Administration (Iowa) Special Reports and Narratives of Projects, 1935-1936, undated MS-0293. United States Work Projects Administration (Iowa) Professional and Service Division scrapbooks, circa 1939

Related collection materials

Related collections in other repositories include:

United States. Work Projects Administration (Iowa) Records (Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa)

United States. Work Projects Administration Records (Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.)

MS-0260. United States. Work Projects Administration (Iowa) Photographs, 1933-1940, undated
March 19, 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672