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McCoy, Elizabeth (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume LXV (1977)

Ring, Daniel F.
New deal work projects at the Milwaukee Public Library,   pp. 28-40 PDF (4.7 MB)

Page 28

Daniel F. Ring 
Oakland University, 
Rochester, Michigan 
"Give a man a dole and you save his body and destroy his spirit; give
a job and pay him an assured wage and you save both the body and the spirit."1
This statement by Harry Hopkins reflects the philosophy of the New Deal,
its creator Franklin D. Roosevelt and like-minded social thinkers such as
Homer Folks. Thus, an important purpose of the many work-relief bureaus was
to "substitute work for relief"2 so as to restore feelings of self-esteem
to the unemployed. 
 Some authorities would contend that the unprecedented intervention of the
Federal government caused a revolution in the StateFederal relationships,
not to mention waste and inefficiency, which is summed up in the word "boondoggling."
The New Deal did effect a revolution in the nature of the government and
there was undoubtedly a great deal of waste and inefficiency. But to emphasize
only these negative aspects would seriously distort the picture. In seeking
to save the capitalistic system from collapse, the New Deal made unstinted
efforts to salvage human resources. 
 Many people today are familiar with the New Deal's accomplishments through
an awareness of its physical outcroppings—the dams, airports and
that dot America's landscape. But the New Deal also played a sizeable role
in fostering cultural and scholarly programs which became known as "white
collar" jobs because they provided work to such unemployed professionals
as musicians, artists, and clerks. This article will discuss the origins,
nature and results of the "white collar" enterprises of the Civilian
Authority (C.W.A.), the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (F.E.R.A.)
and the Works Projects Administration (W.P.A.) which were administered through
the Milwaukee Public Library. 
From 1933 until 1942, the Milwaukee Public Library and the New Deal were
closely linked. Many New Deal programs were of marginal significance, making
no lasting impact on the Library and contributing nothing of consequence
to the cultural heritage of the community. Among these was the National Industrial
Recovery Act or the N.R.A., as its administration came to be called. The

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