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Family Tree Friday: The National Youth Administration (1935-1943)

by on June 24, 2011


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)

Youth on relief in Haward, California, April 17, 1940. Still Pictures, National Archives. ARC ID 532121.

 

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.

"Miss Juanita E. Gray learns to operate a lathe machine at the Washington, DC NYA War Production and Training Center." Still Pictures, National Archives. ARC ID 535809.

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.

Original caption: "Sunshine and knowledge to the less fortunate through NYA." Young woman tutoring a younger girl, ca. 1936. Still Pictures, National Archives. ARC ID 197140.

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.

"Work experience in aviation for NYA boys": Two youth working on the propellor section of a plane, ca. 1938. Still Pictures, National Archives. ARC ID 195861.

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!


Comments

Liz April 3, 2012 at 12:36 am

Thanks so much for this post! I just found my dad was working in the NYA in the 1940 census– in a library — which is where I work now! Never knew this!

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