In searching the Florida State Archives digital collections found at Florida Memory, I ran across this wonderful collection of church-related documents produced by the WPA. If you have early 19th and 20th century Florida ancestry, these documents will be of interest. The following is from the website:
This collection of Works Progress Administration (WPA) church records is from the State Library of Florida’s collections. One of the most significant undertakings of the Historical Records Survey was a nationwide survey of churches and church records, known as the Church Archives Inventory.
Church Archives Inventory
Each state created a list of known churches and synagogues to be surveyed, organized by county. Survey workers then ventured out into the field to document church histories and record holdings by interviewing clergy and congregation members. This collection contains the documents created by the state of Florida.
The form used by field workers for the Church Archives Inventory, titled “Form 20HR,” included fields for church name (or names), address, name of the pastor, architectural and building details, race and size of the congregation, location of church records, and additional information deemed relevant.
Search the WPA Church Records Florida Memory website by pastor, church or denomination.
Browse the WPA Church Records Florida Memory website.
The following teasor is from an article posted in the April 23, 2012 edition of CityBeat.com.
Newly restored digital copies of 73-year-old maps detailing where U.S military veterans are buried throughout Hamilton County will be unveiled Wednesday.
The Hamilton County Recorder’s Office recently received map books dating to 1939 that were thought to have been destroyed. Created by the Works Progress Administration, the map books register the burial location of every veteran in the county who had served dating back to the Revolutionary War.
All of the images now are available on the Recorder’s Office website.
Read the full article.
The following article about the WPA Era was written by Bryan L. Mulcahy, the Reference Librarian at the Fort Myers-Lee County Library.
The year 1929 was one of the most tragic in American history. The infamous stock market crash coupled with the Great Depression that followed had a terrible impact on many Americans. Herbert Hoover and his successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt formulated many relief programs to attempt to stem the tide of misery and poverty throughout the country. The efforts were met with some success and many failures.
One of the most successful ventures was establishment of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA was the largest project among the many programs developed during the New Deal. For genealogists, one aspect of the WPA has been especially important. The Historical Records Survey under the WPA created many inventories and records which have benefited the entire genealogical research community. Some of the highlights of what was created include:
- Burial listing in cemeteries
- Federal and state census indexes
- Indexes to naturalization records
- Indexes to Newspapers
- Inventories of records found in county courthouses
- Descriptions of manuscripts found in various libraries
- Place-name guides
- Inventories of church records including the range of years and content covered by a church’s christening records, and the names of those buried in church cemeteries
Under the auspices of the WPA, workers went to archives, historical societies, public and university libraries and compiled inventories of manuscript collections. They went to courthouses, town halls, offices in large cities, and vital statistics offices and inventoried records. Besides compiling indexes, they also transcribed some of the records they found. The impact on genealogical research in today’s era has been profound. Most researchers have used many of these items at some point in the research process.
Sadly, not everything compiled has survived. Decisions were made by various entities and governmental officials concerning certain records and indexes. Those that were considered of “no value” were destroyed. However, the majority of materials created or indexed during the WPA era survived and the entire genealogical community is grateful for the benefits they have provided.
Bryan L. Mulcahy
Fort Myers-Lee County Library