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The Beginning of the WPA

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The Beginning of the WPA

Short | 02:06

Nearly 8 million Americans were employed through the WPA. After years of being on relief, citizens now had the opportunity to pull themselves out of the mire of the Great Depression.

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In the grip of the Great Depression, WPA writers searched for America and discovered the Soul of a People. This show explores one of the most controversial public assistance programs of its time and shows nothing less than the creation of America's first ever self-portrait.

Bios

  • Anzia Yezierska
  • Richard Wright
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • John Cheever
  • Jim Thompson
  • Vardis Fisher
  • Ralph Ellison
  • Anzia Yezierska

    Anzia Yezierska

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    Known as "The Cinderella of the Tenements," Anzia Yezierska's stories of immigrant life in New York's Lower East Side made her a popular novelist and screenwriter in the 1920s, where her films included Hungry Hearts and Salom'e of the Tenements. After the stock market crash of 1929, however, publishers were no longer interested in immigrant success stories. Though Yezierska felt the indignity of being on a welfare project, she later described how interaction with younger writers on the Writers' Project renewed her morale, making her "feel like a bit of withered moss grown green again." In 1950, she published a fictionalized memoir, Red Ribbon on a White Horse, with an introduction by W.H. Auden. She continued writing until her death in 1970.
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