WPA Archive Inventories & Abstracts, New York State
Under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration (later called the Work Projects Administration, or WPA) during the Great Depression, the Historical Records Survey was organized in 1935 to document resources for research in U.S. history.
Their workers combed municipal and religious archives, historical societies, and public and university libraries for vital records and created comprehensive inventories, many of which were published in book form.
The available information will fluctuate depending on which titles you are perusing. You may be able to discover the following information:
- Church histories and records
- Local histories
- Societies’ histories
- Guides to vital records
- Inventories of local records
These inventories are an invaluable and often overlooked resource for genealogists, but are not widely available today. As we read in the forward to WPA Transcriptions of Early County Records of New York State: Records of the Road Commissioners of Ulster County, 1722-1769:
"Public records are the frozen mind of a people. In the official records are crystallized not only the struggle for law and order in our gradual social evolution, but also the personalities of the leaders of an earlier time[…]The Historical Records Survey has rendered a real, and it is hoped enduring, service in emphasizing the importance of public records."