Texas Writers' Project

By: John G. Johnson

Type: General Entry

Published: August 1, 1995

Updated: January 28, 2020

The Texas Writers' Project was part of the Works Progress Administration (see WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION) established during the Great Depression. Its best-known publication was Texas: A Guide to the Lone Star State (1940), cosponsored and copyrighted by the state highway department for tourism development. Members of the Texas Writers' Project also wrote and published, in limited editions, a number of local guides, some of which have become collector's items. The costs of publication were usually underwritten by sponsors. Folklore and folkways formed an integral part of each work; each district collected information on legends, epigrams, and customs in its area. All districts participated in the Federal Writers' Project to locate and interview ex-slaves. More than 300 such interviews were collected in Texas and deposited in the Library of Congress. In addition to these works, the writers also researched histories of Texas towns and cities, transcribed old newspaper articles, wrote essays on business, industry, and architecture, and drafted outlines for walking tours of historical sites. The writers also worked on a regional series and suggested for publication such titles as "America Eats" (on the culture and traditions associated with regional cuisine; to include recipes); "Hands That Built the Nation" (a history of handicrafts); and "The Western Range: The Story of the Grasslands" (in cooperation with the Texas Historical Records Survey project). When the project closed, the University of Texas at Austin received the working papers for projected publications and an indexed inventory of all manuscripts from 1937 and 1938. The Texas State Library also received some of the unpublished materials. James Francis (J. Frank) Davis directed the writers' project in Texas. The University of Texas Bureau of Research in the Social Sciences sponsored the project after the federal government withdrew full funding in 1939.

Archie Hobson, ed., Remembering America: A Sampler of the WPA American Guide Series (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985). Geoffrey O'Gara, A Long Road Home: Journeys through America's Present in Search of America's Past (New York: Norton, 1989). Jane Warner Rogers, WPA Professional and Service Projects in Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1976).

  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Presses and Publishers

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

John G. Johnson, “Texas Writers' Project,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 09, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-writers-project.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995
January 28, 2020