The WPA Library Project

In South Carolina

     No one can deny that the public libraries that currently exist in South Carolina are some of the country's best libraries (if not the best). However this was not always the case. In the 1930's approximately one-third of the population of America was without any reasonable sort of public library service and South Carolina was no exception. Prior to 1935 South Carolina had no funded state library agency and only three of its forty-six counties had countywide library service. However, in 1935 the Work Projects Administration (WPA) began sponsoring nationwide library demonstration projects. These projects were designed to encourage the development of library service to underserved populations while simultaneously providing temporary work for the unemployed. The WPA library demonstration project was able to vastly improve public library conditions in South Carolina. Library service to rural and African-American citizens was enhanced, bookmobile service was initiated, and libraries were started or expanded. In 1943, when the project ended, South Carolina had twelve publicly funded county libraries, one regional library, as well as a funded state library agency.

So...what is the WPA??
Picture of FDR

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Work Projects Administration (WPA) in 1935. The stated purpose of the WPA was to provide useful work to the millions of victims of the Great Depression. Roosevelt hoped to preserve the skills and self-respect of these unemployed people. Also he hoped that the economy would in turn be stimulated by the increased purchasing power of these newly employed people. In 1943, because of the virtual elimination of unemployment by a wartime economy, the WPA was terminated.


This document was compiled by the WPA Statewide Library Project at the request of Mr. James H. Hope during the 1930's. Hope was the superintendent of the South Carolina Board of Education. This document contains information regarding the population of each county within South Carolina. This document also contains information on the valuation of each county's library as well as other library statistics. Click on the button below labeled WPA County Info to access information from this document specific to each county in South Carolina.

First page of WPA document

Click on these buttons for more information
about the WPA Library Project in South Carolina


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