The Legacy of the American Guide Series

New Deal Mural "Construction of the Dam" by William Gropper
A mural created in 1938 by William Gropper located in the Department of the Interior Building depicting workers constructing a dam.

The Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) employed some of the most talented writers in the country and tasked them with finding accurate information on each state’s history, customs, and geography and to convey this to the American people in a thorough and compelling manner. In their 7½ years of operation, the FWP created a body of literature that defined American culture and promoted it in a way that fostered national pride while still celebrating the diversity of each state. Each volume was presented with the knowledge of a unique combination of history, traditions, values, and environment that developed and shaped the culture of a state. The guides allowed the states to choose the direction of their future identity by showing the nation what they locally valued and thought relevant as a society. The American Guides Series reflects America’s culture through the knowledge it contains as well as its composition, with each volume culminating into the complete series just as each state contributes to the United States as a nation.