Capturing the Past

The Fireside—News and Views from The Living New Deal

Capturing the Past

"The Future,” by sculptor Robert I. Aitken

"The Future,” by sculptor Robert I. Aitken
Completed in 1935, the sculpture sits at the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance of the National Archives Building, Washington, D.C.

On June 19, 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt signed legislation establishing a “National Archives of the United States Government.” It was the culmination of decades of congressional debate on the issue of national records preservation.The new agency began by acquiring federal records from the U.S. Senate, White House, Department of State, Federal Works Agency and other federal entities. Gathering records from around the country posed a greater challenge. No one at the time knew the full extent of federal records in offices and storehouses beyond Washington, D.C. The WPA took up the challenge. In 1936, WPA workers surveyed and inventoried two-million linear feet of records in 5,000 government buildings. Today, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) holds billions of pages of textual records, tens of millions of photographs, millions of maps, charts, drawings and much more, all available to the public. NARA  is an invaluable resource to the Living New Deal as we research and document the vast legacy the New Deal left to America.

 

Susan Ives is communications director for the Living New Deal and editor of the Living New Deal newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.