The Montana State University Archives Federal Work Projects Administration Papers and Photos

What is it?

WPA Federal Writers Project Montana Photo of Gibson DamIn 1935, the United States Congress appropriated funding for the Work Projects Administration's Federal Writers Project (FWP). FWP employees were tasked with preparing written and visual content for the American Guide books. Research materials were collected on local history, historical figures, art, folklore, racial groups, scenery, agricultural developments, landmarks, monuments, and more for each state. The Montana State Guide Book was published in 1939.

By the end of 1942, because of the United States activities in national defence mobilization, suitable archival repositories were found for the materials gathered by the WPA employees. In Montana, Dr. Merrill G. Burlingame received the WPA Montana research materials and placed them in the Montana State College Library Archives.

This online digital collection is a subset of the entire Montana State University Archives WPA 1935-1942 Records Collection which has over 57 linear feet of 250,000 individual objects. Materials in the archived collection includes, but are not limited to: photographs of WPA projects in Montana, original artwork for WPA publications, research and field work on the statistics of Montana racial and cultural groups, local history and landmarks, agricultural history and practices, regional newspapers and publications, local Montana folklore and Native American legends, as well as directories of churchs and schools, and educational materials.

The MSU Archives Collection 2336 - WPA Records, 1935-1942 Finding Aid has complete archive details on the original artwork, transcripts, photographs, publications and documents and their content and provenance.

MSU Archives has another Montana WPA collection, the MSU Archives WPA Montana County Drawing Plats for Gallatin County (MSU Library Special Collection 2101) with township plats showing land ownership, operating units and land use in Gallatin County during 1934-36.

The Montana Historical Society has a Montana WPA Collection, MC 77, which contains: Almanac for 1940 and 1941, Copper Camp: the Story of Butte Pioneers, Ski Manual, Small Metals Mining Study, and Stories of Montana.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Montana State University Archives Federal Work Projects Administration Papers and Photos, Montana State University (MSU) Library, Bozeman, MT, [Item permalink or DOI]

Copyright Notice

Whenever possible, the Montana State University Library provides information about copyright in our digital collections records. We often do not own the rights in materials, and as such do not grant permissions for their use. Permissions and fees may be required from the individual copyright holder for uses beyond what is allowed based on U.S. Copyright Law (

Please attempt to determine if an item is protected by copyright and follow any copyright or use restrictions when applicable. Written permission from the copyright holder is required for reproduction of protected items beyond what is allowed by fair use or other exemptions. These materials may be used for personal use, research, teaching (including distribution to classes), or any "fair use" as defined by U.S. copyright laws.

For more information please contact Archives and Special Collections at the Montana State University Library or Leila Sterman, Scholarly Communication Librarian.


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