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"Massachusetts A Guide To Its Places and People"

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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The United States elected Franklin D. Roosevelt president in 1932 with the expectation he would use the tools of government to ease the suffering then resulting from the Great Depression (1929-1940). In 1935, Roosevelt implemented the largest public works program in history, the Works Progress Administration (WPA). It eventually employed millions of Americans. One of its most unusual efforts was the Federal Writers' Project, which produced a number of works including state guides such as this. Ever since, these guides have been highly valued for their thoroughness, coherence, and factual data. Although at the time the Massachusetts guide was accused by conservatives of having a left-wing bias for some parts of its history, it has remained a valuable resource. Here, the tours of valley towns are still usable, as is its chronology of Massachusetts history. The director of the guide project, Ray Allen Billington, went on to become an honored historian of the history of the American west. The light and occasionally irreverent tone he set for the guide is obvious from the Introduction ("One Moment, Please!") reproduced here.


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