WPA Workers

The WPA (Work Projects Administration) employed millions of workers in various public works projects including the construction/repair of schools, other public buildings, roads, bridges, and parks; plus numerous sewer and water projects (including the massive Tennessee Valley Authority project). WPA workers built 40,000 new public buildings and made substantial repairs to 85,000 others. The WPA existed from 1935-1943.

WPA highway project in Texas (TX.gov photo)
WPA highway project in Texas (TX.gov photo)

It’s relatively easy to search for WPA employees in the 1940 U.S. population census. In the bottom right corner of the Ancestry LE (Ancestry Library Edition) landing page (or midway on the Heritage Quest Online landing page), select 1940 from the U.S. Census box. Now try the following search (case does not matter):

SEARCH—LIVED IN: Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA (Exact)
SEARCH—KEYWORD: WPA Project (Exact)

This search returns 884 results.

You can also search for female employees of the WPA, or black employees:

SEARCH—LIVED IN: Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA (Exact)
SEARCH—KEYWORD: WPA Project (Exact)
SEARCH—GENDER: Female

This search returns 149 results.

SEARCH—LIVED IN: Saint Louis County, Missouri, USA (Exact)
SEARCH—KEYWORD: WPA Project (Exact)
SEARCH—RACE: Negro

This search returns 322 results.

You may use Heritage Quest Online from home with a valid SLPL library card and PIN, or at Central Library or any of our branches.

You may use Ancestry LE at Central Library or any of our branches.

Here’s a list of SLPL reference databases.

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