Family Tree Friday: The National Youth Administration (1935-1943)
This week’s post comes to you from guest blogger Jennifer Dryer, who works in the National Declassification Center at the National Archives. Jennifer is completing a cross-training assignment with the Archives I Research Support Branch, where she has been working on reference relating to the upcoming 1940 Census release. Some questions on the 1940 census relate to relief efforts during the Great Depression. In this post, Jennifer looks at one of those New Deal Agencies, the National Youth Administration.
1940 Census: col. 22: “Was [this person] at work on, or assigned to, public EMERGENCY WORK (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of March 24-30? (Y or N)
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the National Youth Administration (NYA) as one of his New Deal agencies, to provide aid to a country trying to lift itself out of the Great Depression. President Roosevelt’s New Deal agencies also included the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), but neither of them addressed the problem facing the nation’s unemployed youth. The WPA provided public works jobs for unskilled workers, but did not initially provide training in new jobs skills. The typical WPA worker was the head of household of relief families, which sometimes included women. The CCC typically provided unemployed, unmarried young men ages 18-25 (but not women) on the relief rolls work constructing state parks and other conservation projects.
NYA created a means for young men and women between 16 and 24 who had finished school and were unemployed to work and develop skills that they could use to continue working once they finished the program. Their work ranged from building bridges, schools, and furniture for schools to nursing and junior clerks. Others worked in agricultural and industry.
Participants in the NYA accompanied their work with studies related to their jobs, which allowed them to prepare for things such as the civil service examinations and homemaking. The most important thing provided to many NYA participants was job experience.
Further textual and photographic records concerning the National Youth Administration and other New Deal agencies can be found in Archives II in College Park (RG 119), the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, and the Tugwell Room in the Greenbelt branch of the Prince Georges County public library. The library in Archives II also has a number of books dealing specifically with the NYA.
If you had relatives who worked for the NYA during the Depression, these records will provide more insight into their experiences!