A Guide to the Runnels County (Texas) New Deal Agencies Records, 1933-1943
The first expenditure in Texas of federal monies allocated for the New Deal programs of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration created the Texas Relief Commission in 1933. With the establishment of the massive Work Projects Administration (WPA, originally titled the Works Progress Administration) in 1935, over 600,000 unemployed and destitute heads-of-household (both men and women) in Texas were provided with employment and subsistence-level wages during the last eight years of the Great Depression. In 1943 the program was phased out, rendered unnecessary by the decrease in unemployment and in the number of Texans seeking financial assistance.
In Runnels County, as in the rest of Texas, most WPA projects were devoted to the construction of schools and other public works. The Ballinger High School, Winters School, Runnels County Courthouse, and other buildings were erected or improved by workers paid from WPA funds. In addition, school-lunch programs and other minor projects provided income for a few more unemployed Runnels County residents.
Letters, memoranda, printed material, and applicant records from the Texas Relief Commission comprise the Runnels County (Texas) New Deal Agencies Records, 1933-1943. Persons applying for work with agencies like the Works Projects Administration (WPA), Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the National Youth Administration in Runnels County were assigned case numbers, interviewed, visited at home, reported on by the caseworkers, and checked for indigent status. Lists of case numbers were entered into two ledger books by the clerks. Applicants were then assigned employment, given direct relief, or rejected. All papers relative to the different cases were placed together in folders, which were filed in numerical order.
The case numbers were organized in several series, and a master file of alphabetically arranged cards was maintained. The first four series were subtitled with the names of Runnels County towns: "Ballinger," "Winters," "Miles," and "Norton."
In addition, alphabetically arranged cards were kept for each series of cases and for those applicants certified for receipt of commodities. For CCC applicants, both cards and folders were maintained in alphabetical order. Several other kinds of forms and folders pertaining to relief cases are also included in this collection. Unfortunately, numerous errors in spelling, typing, assignment of case numbers, and so forth, render the various cross-referral systems less than reliable.
Besides the case records of applicants, the collection also contains a number of short publications, memoranda, and letters from the Texas Department of Public Welfare and other sources, relative to the administration of the New Deal programs in Texas.
This collection is open for research use.
Runnels County (Texas) New Deal Agencies Records, 1933-1943, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s “History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project,” 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers