Hot stuff: the WPA on… Mercury?

The New Deal put many different kinds of people back to work. Living New Deal researcher Brent McKee — in the midst of some deep archival work he’s doing on Washington DC — recently found signs of an unusual work site. As he writes in his latest blog post, New Deal laborers were not all “laborers”:

A Federal non-construction project to revise table of the orbit of the planet Mercury. Work includes revisiting reductions of the observations, including those made at the Naval Observatory and elsewhere from 1890 to 1936; comparing observations with Newcomb’s Tables of Mercury; forming and solving by least squares equations of conditions for corrections to the tables; and combining results with those of a similar discussion of all observations of Mercury before 1890 and used as the basis for the present tables. (National Archives-College Park, Record Group 69, Microfilmed Records of the WPA)
is Project Manager for The Living New Deal. He is a trained cultural historian who teaches courses in U.S. History at the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University.

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