Finding New Deal Ancestors

It’s very possible that you have relatives who were employed in one or more of the various New Deal programs, for example, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Works Progress Administration (WPA), or the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). Perhaps the best way to find out is by contacting the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri (part of the National Archives). Procedures and information needed by the NPRC to search for personnel records may vary, depending on the agency you believe your relative worked for. As an example though, the NPRC describes the following procedures for WPA record requests:

First, you need to gather as much of the following information as you can (missing information may result in a failed search):

  1. Full name used at the time of service (provide exact spelling and include the middle name if known); nicknames (if known)
  2. Social Security Number (if known)
  3. Date of birth
  4. Place of birth
  5. Hometown (city and state) at time of WPA employment
  6. Parents’ name
  7. Spouse’s name
  8. Dates of service (day, month and year)
  9. Location of employing office (city, county and state)

Second, a written request, or an NA Form 14137, “Request for WPA Personnel Records,” must be emailed to [email protected], or faxed to them at 314-801-9187, or sent by postal mail to:

National Archives & Records Administration
ATTN: Archival Programs
P.O. Box 38757
St. Louis, MO 63138

No fee is required (and should not be included in your request) unless a file is found. But if there are records, and you want them, the fee—as of August 1, 2017—is $25 for five pages or less, or $70 for six pages or more. The full record must be purchased; you can’t purchase, for example, the first five pages of a ten-page record.  

For more information about WPA and other personnel records, go to the NPRC’s website, https://www.archives.gov/st-louis, or email them at [email protected].

Good luck in your research!