Skip to Main Content

Works Progress Administration: UK Libraries WPA Collections

Goodman-Paxton Inventory and Images

For more information on the Special Collections Research Center, please click on the "Access Information" tab above and scroll down.

The University of Kentucky's WPA collection becomes a Center of Excellence

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) collection at the University of Kentucky dates from the early 1930s to the late 1970s and is becoming more comprehensive thanks to the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL), and the Collaborative Federal Depository Program (CFDP). UK has been given the opportunity to develop a Center of Excellence for the WPA through an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant. As a Center of Excellence, UK is developing a collection of archival pieces that are non-circulating and will preserve the WPA publications in their original format. The libraries are also acquiring extra copies for use by researchers. Currently, UK's collection has over 2,600 items published by the Works Progress Administration.


The WPA published many American Imprints Inventories, which are quite fascinating historical accounts of library collections in each state. The Supplemental Check List Of Kentucky Imprints 1788-1820: American Imprints Inventory No. 38 lists the titles of books published about or in Kentucky. This particular book lists the holdings of 30 libraries around the United States.

The University of Kentucky's collection has many items that chronicle Kentucky's involvement and history with the WPA such as:

Inventory of The County Archives of Kentucky: no.34 Fayette County (Lexington). Prepared by The Historical Records Survey, the Division of Women's and Professional Projects, and the Works Progress Administration. This publication contains an historical sketch of Lexington as well as a layout of the governmental organization. It also states that the State Office of the Historical Records Survey was originally located in Lexington.

    Another interesting publication from the WPA is the Assigned Occupations of persons employed on WPA projects, published in November 1937. This publication is filled primarily with tables numbering how many people were employed on WPA projects organized by state. The introduction provides a brief description of the data as well as the occupational groups and major types of projects.

    The WPA was also responsible for publishing many Guides, one of which is the Guide to Depositories of Manuscript Collections In the United States: Minnesota. This guide contains lists organized by library of all the manuscripts held in Minnesota libraries. 

Digitized WPA Publications

Digital images of Kentucky-related WPA publications are available online.

Visual Modules of WPA Activity in Kentucky

The following visual modules reflect Works Progress Administration activity in Kentucky during the 1930s and 1940s:

     WPA Construction Projects in Kentucky: Adair-Cumberland Counties 

     WPA Construction Projects in Kentucky: Daviess-Johnson Counties

     WPA Construction Projects in Kentucky: Kenton-Muhlenberg Counties

     WPA Construction Projects in Kentucky: Nelson-Woodford Counties

     WPA Packhorse Librarians in Kentucky

     WPA Professional Employment Programs in Kentucky

     WPA Recreation & Child Care Programs in Kentucky

     WPA Women's Training Centers in Kentucky