The Annals of Cleveland
A Depression-Era Project of the WPA

During the New Deal Era, workers of Annals of Cleveland staff summarized and indexed material from early Cleveland newspapers, beginning with the inaugural issue of the city's first paper, the July 31, 1818 Cleaveland Gazette and Commercial Register. The project provided jobs for unemployed white-collar workers during the Depression of the 1930s and created an important record of early life and thought in the city of Cleveland.

The purpose of this website is to offer a window into the social context in which the Annals were created.

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WPA meeting on square. Work Projects Administration - Cleveland Area. Cleveland Press photo by John Nash. (Press Reference Dept. date July 8, 1939 .)

Work Projects Administration, WPA Office, 1275 Ontario Street. Cleveland Press photograph by John Nash. (Press Reference Dept. date Apr 20 1938.)

About the WPA

Established in 1939, the Work Projects Administration (WPA) provided jobs to unemployed workers through public projects (sponsored by national, state and local agencies) and on defense and war-related projects. The agency also provided work to unemployed youth through the National Youth Administration (NYA). The WPA was preceeded by three agencies which operated between 1933 and 1939: the Civil Works Administration (CWA, 1933-34), Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA, 1933-38), and Works Progress Administration (1935-39). It ceased operations in 1943, having been abolished by Presidential letter in 1942. (This information is from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website.)

The WPA in Cleveland

In Cleveland, the WPA addressed local unemployment by providing jobs to unemployed workers who were receiving relief. The diverse projects of the WPA in Cleveland included: the development of Cleveland's zoo, Metroparks, and cultural gardens; inventory of county records; improvements to the city's airport and streets; construction of public housing, and systematic compilation of material from the city's early newspapers.

The Annals of Cleveland Project

The Historical Records Survey was a white-collar relief program, operating through the WPA's Women's and Professional Service Division. The Annals of Cleveland was a joint project of the Historical Records Survey, Cleveland Public Library, and Cuyahoga County Recorder's office. The Annals staff abstracted and indexed Cleveland's early newspapers (the Annals of Cleveland Newspaper Series, which is the focus of this website), produced a Negro Press Digest and Digest of Jewish Newspapers, translated and abstracted indexes for the city's contemporary foreign language newspapers, and produced a two-volume inventory of Cuyahoga County records, among other projects.

Information about the WPA in Cleveland comes from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, which contains more information about the Cleveland WPA, Historical Records Survey, and the Annals of Cleveland project. To access this information in digital format, chose from the menu below:

Annals of Cleveland Historical Records Survey Work Projects Administration

How This Site is Organized

The Guide to Digitized Materials provides detailed information about the layout of material in this site, with links to the site's two main menus, and explains the format of the original Annals, with graphic illustrations. The site Bibliography provides information about the materials consulted in the creation of this site, as well as suggestions for further research.

A navigation bar and links to related sites are provided at the bottom of this and every main section.

Home | Guide | Classification Lists | Canals & Canal Boats | Bibliography & Links | Staff

Sites of Particular Interest

Cleveland's First Infrastructure: the Ohio & Erie Canal from George Washington to Alfred Kelley, Cleveland Digital Library's exhibit and resource gateway to materials about the planning and construction of the Ohio & Erie Canal, with links to related sites.

Our Cleveland State University Library Special Collections site provides information about departmental collections and projects.

Our Cleveland Digital Library site provides links to digital projects.

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Your comments, suggestions and questions are welcomed.

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Last updated July 6, 1999