New Deal Agencies and Their Impact in South Dakota Brad Tennant Assistant Professor Presentation College Aberdeen, SD Brad.Tennant@presentation.edu http://www.presentation.edu/eportfolios/Brad.Tennant/index.htm
South Dakota during an Age of Prosperity Between 1920-1930, nearly 23,000 S.D. farms faced foreclosure. An additional 11,500 farms faced foreclosure between 1931-1932.
By 1925, at least 175 banks closed in South Dakota. By 1934, slightly more than 70% of all banks in South Dakota failed. By the end of 1934, 39% of South Dakota’s total population was on relief rolls. This was the highest percentage of any state.
Significance of Depression Era Construction Boom Employment (work relief) Promoted consumption of goods and services (economic recovery) Consisted of a variety of internal improvements and public works projects that greatly contributed to the state Produced a valuable infrastructure for future state economic development
The Road to Relief and Recovery Need to keep people employed with little down-time between projects Led to new project proposals Created a legacy of roads, bridges, parks, buildings, and dams as a part of South Dakota’s infrastructure
New Deal Agencies Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) Public Works Administration (PWA) Works Progress Administration (WPA) (aka Work Projects Administration) Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) Early New Deal funding program, 1933-1935 Focus was on highways and dams Many early FERA-funded projects were completed by other New Deal agencies Every S.D. county, with the exception of then Armstrong county, received FERA funding
Public Works Administration (PWA) “Public works” South Dakota PWA projects included community waterworks, schools, courthouses, municipal buildings and jails, sewer systems, street improvements, and civic auditoriums
Works Progress Administration (WPA) Most significant New Deal agency in terms of the state’s infrastructure 18,780 miles of highways, roads, and streets 1,303 bridges and viaducts 11,193 culverts Over 300 school building projects
WPA Numerous public buildings ranging from armories and utility plants to municipal buildings and the Governor’s Mansion Sidewalks, water and sewer lines, and parks. Athletic facilities and swimming pools Airport landing strips and buildings Over 500 dams
Civilian Conservation Corps CCC Male U.S. citizens 18-25 years of age Unmarried Out of school; out of work Physically fit $25 per month ($20 for families)
CCC Structural improvements in state and national parks such as forest thinning, bridges, fire towers, and service buildings Transportation improvements including park trails, roads, foot paths, and landing fields Flood and erosion control projects ranging from dams, ditches, rip rapping, shelterbelts, and planting vegetation cover Recreational areas for camping and picnicking
CCC Over 1,400 miles of telephone lines considerably improved communications More than 1,500 miles of truck and fire trails were constructed in the Black Hills area alone More than 40 million trees planted Several hundred dams built in conjunction with other agencies Nearly 500 bridges
A ‘try anything’ president “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” Oglethorpe University Address Franklin D. Roosevelt May 22, 1932
Sources Alexander Mitchell Library – Aberdeen, SD Vertical Files: “Brown County WPA”; “South Dakota WPA.” Dennis, Michelle L. “Federal Relief Construction in South Dakota, 1929-1941.” National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form. September 1998. State Historic Preservation Office, Pierre, SD. Also available at: www.nr.nps.gov/multiples/64500578.pdf www.nr.nps.gov/multiples/64500578.pdf Schell, Herbert S. History of South Dakota. Sioux Falls, SD: Brevet Press, Inc., 1975. Tennant, Brad and Buntin, Art. Relief and Recovery: The New Deal in Brown County – The Human, Architectural and Artistic Legacy. Aberdeen, SD: Aberdeen/Brown County Landmarks Commission, 2005.