Nebraska during the New Deal


Nebraska during the New Deal

The Federal Writers' Project in the Cornhusker State

Marilyn Irvin Holt

208 pages
13 photographs, 3 illustrations, index


December 2019


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

December 2019


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

December 2019


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

2020 Nebraska Book Award

As a New Deal program, the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) aimed to put unemployed writers, teachers, and librarians to work. The contributors were to collect information, write essays, conduct interviews, and edit material with the goal of producing guidebooks in each of the then forty-eight states and U.S. territories. Project administrators hoped that these guides, known as the American Guide Series, would promote a national appreciation for America's history, culture, and diversity and preserve democracy at a time when militarism was on the rise and parts of the world were dominated by fascism.

Marilyn Irvin Holt focuses on the Nebraska project, which was one of the most prolific branches of the national program. Best remembered for its state guide and series of folklore and pioneer pamphlets, the project also produced town guides, published a volume on African Americans in Nebraska, and created an ethnic study of Italians in Omaha. In Nebraska during the New Deal Holt examines Nebraska’s contribution to the project, both in terms of its place within the national FWP as well as its operation in comparison to other state projects. 

Author Bio

Marilyn Irvin Holt is an independent historian and writer. She is the author of several books, including Linoleum, Better Babies, and the Modern Farm Woman, 1890–1930 (Nebraska, 2006) and The Orphan Trains: Placing Out in America (Nebraska, 1992).


"Nebraska During the New Deal offers an intriguing window into the NFWP program and the people populating the state at this period. Holt’s meticulous scholarship supplies a valuable contribution to FWP and Nebraska history while offering a comprehensive study in Great Depression Nebraska. Students in American history classes, Nebraska history aficionados, and lifelong learners will appreciate its contents."—Amy Helene Forss, Nebraska History

“This fast-paced, well-written, and solidly researched story of the Nebraska Federal Writers’ Project is an important contribution to the state’s history by a veteran historian at the top of her game. . . . Superbly crafted.”—R. Douglas Hurt, author of The Great Plains during World War II

“A multifaceted work, covering the ins and outs of maintaining an at times controversial federal agency at the state level. Nebraska’s effort was remarkable, preserving for the state an amazing collection of materials that otherwise would have been lost. . . . Holt’s beautifully written and accessible book is a welcome addition to the story of the 1930s on the Great Plains.”—Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, author of Childhood on the Farm: Work, Play, and Coming of Age in the Midwest

“Fascinating. . . . In exploring the short- and long-term impact of the Federal Writers’ Project, Marilyn Holt displays great skill in providing a much-needed insight into a neglected area of the fight against the all-embracing misery of the Great Depression.”—Peter Fearon, professor emeritus of economic and social history at the University of Leicester

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. Putting Writers to Work
2. Folklore and Pioneers: The Pamphlets
3. Interviews and Narratives
4. The Guides and More
5. The Nebraska Project and Its Legacy
Appendix: Nebraska Workers, Federal Writers’ Project
Selected Bibliography


2020 Nebraska Book Award

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