Massillon's WPA Projects: Introduction

The Works Progress Administration...

(renamed as the Work Projects Administration is 1939) was founded by Franklin Roosevelt in 1935. This organization was unlike any before it’s time.  Funded by Congress through the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, the WPA created roughly 3 million paid jobs, mostly to unskilled workers, throughout the United States. The workers of the WPA made massive improvements throughout cities all over the country. In Massillon alone, around fifty different public work improvements were made, drastically improving the lives of those who resided here. The city of Massillon contributed $73,996.00 toward WPA projects in Massillon, out of the total cost of $769,868.00.

After beginning my research on the WPA, I was fortunate to come across an article detailing many of the different public works projects carried out by the WPA. Using that information I drove through Massillon to photograph each site individually. The photos are 35mm black and white film, that was then scanned, to be used digitally.

This exhibition serves to document Massillon, as it is now seventy-eight years later; And to keep alive the memory of an administration that put America back to work.

Short History of WPA projects in Massillon:

Throughout Stark county more than 370 projects were completed by the Work Projects Administration. Around fifty of these projects were based in Massillon. Funding from the city, the WPA, and other various sources allowed for major improvements, while creating jobs for unemployed residents. The WPA made possible major sewer developments, street construction, and building renovations throughout Massillon. Funding was also focused toward public recreation. Improvements in North and South Sippo Park consisted of the building of playgrounds, and shelter houses with dressing rooms and toilets. $3,097.00 Dollars were spent on providing leaders in leisure time activities. Paid work was found for artists, writers, musicians and many more. This organization was one of many New Deal programs, that helped lift our nation out of a depression. Though no longer in existence, the WPA lives on in the changes and improvements made in Massillon, and in cities all across America.

Total Massillon City Contribution: $73,996.00
Total Cost of all Massillon WPA Projects: $769,868.00

About Ali Mercer, exhibit curator and photographer

Ali Mercer is a fine art photographer based in Akron Ohio. After receiving her Bachelor in Fine Art Photography from the Glasgow School of Art, Ali began interning at the Massillon Museum to gain a better understanding of museum environments. Currently, Ali is attending Kent State to receive her Masters in library and information science, while also freelancing, and working as a car dealership photographer. Ali has exhibited her work internationally, as well as in venues throughout Akron Ohio.

To contact Ali via email, please click here.


Business Improvements
Park Works
School Works
Sewer Works
Street Improvements


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