WPA Guide to California
The Golden State
During the 1930s in the United States, the Works Progress Administration developed the Federal Writers’ Project to support writers and artists while making a national effort to document the country’s shared history and culture. The WPA Guides to America series consists of individual guides to each of the states. Little-known authors—many of whom later became celebrated literary figures—were commissioned to write these important books. John Steinbeck, Saul Bellow, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ralph Ellison are among the more than 6,000 writers, editors, historians, and researchers who documented this celebration of local histories. Photographs, drawings, driving tours, detailed descriptions of towns, and rich cultural details exhibit each state’s unique flavor.
The WPA Guide to California, published in 1939, stands out for the quality of its writing, photographs, and pen-and-ink drawings, expertly reflecting this quintessentially American state. Essays cover everything from the gold rush to the movie industry at the nascence of Hollywood’s golden age.