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 American Guide series consists of individual guides to each of the states. Little-known authorsmany of whom would later become celebrated literary figureswere 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 Keystone State is well represented in the WPA Guide to Pennsylvania. The essays explore the rich descriptions of the states historically significant citiessuch as Pittsburgh and Philadelphiaas well as the diversity of the state which also includes many farms and small mining communities.