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Soul of a People: Press Releases

Upcoming events and resources regarding Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story.

Press Release

ALA, NEH announce 30 libraries to receive “Soul of a People” grants

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) announced that 30 libraries will receive a $2,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to present five different outreach programs in connection with an upcoming documentary, “Soul of a People: Voices from the Writers’ Project.”

A library outreach program was designed to enhance and increase the nationwide impact of the documentary, which was produced Spark Media, an award-winning Washington, D.C.-based production and outreach company. Major funding for the library outreach program has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Film and library outreach programs will acquaint public, academic and special library audiences with the story of the largest cultural experiment in U.S. history - the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) of the Works Progress Administration - told against the backdrop of the Depression and 1930s America. Libraries will work with a local scholar with expertise in American history and the WPA to help present and plan programs, ensure that program content conveys intended humanities themes and work with local media and other partners in planning.

The selected libraries, listed in alphabetical order by state, are:

  1. Arkansas State University, State University, Ark.
  2. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, San Jose, Calif.
  3. Middlesex Community College, Middletown, Conn.
  4. Alvin Sherman Library, Nova Southeastern University, Davie-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
  5. Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, Ga.
  6. Chicago State University, Chicago.
  7. Highland Park Public Library, Highland Park, Ill.
  8. Muncie Public Library, Muncie, Ind.
  9. Wichita State University, Wichita, Kan.
  10. Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, Mass.
  11. Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Md.
  12. Town of Castine/Witherle Memorial Library, Castine, Maine
  13. Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, Mich.
  14. St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minn.
  15. The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, St. Paul, Minn.
  16. Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Mo.
  17. Kirkwood Public Library, Kirkwood, Mo.
  18. Lincoln County Public Libraries, Libby, Mont.
  19. Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C.
  20. Regents of New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, N.M.
  21. East Meadow Public Library, East Meadow, N.Y.
  22. Clark Memorial Library, Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, Ohio
  23. Ella M. Everhard Public Library, Wadsworth, Ohio
  24. Edmon Low Library, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla.
  25. Allegheny College, Meadville, Pa.
  26. Linebaugh Public Library, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
  27. University Library, University of Texas Pan American, Edinburg, Texas
  28. Fairfax County Public Library, Fairfax, Va.
  29. The Library of Virginia Foundation, Richmond, Va.
  30. Verona Public Library, Verona, Wis.

More information about “Soul of a People: Voices from the Writers’ Project”can be found at

Established in 1992, the ALA Public Programs Office has an exemplary track record of developing library programming initiatives, including the acclaimed reading and discussion series "Let's Talk About It!," film discussion programs on humanities themes, traveling exhibitions, LIVE! @ your library® and other programs. Recently, it has established the Cultural Communities Fund, an endowment fund created to help all types of libraries across the country bring communities together through cultural programming (  More than 10,000 libraries and at least 10 million individuals have participated in library programming initiatives supported by the Public Programs Office. For more information about the ALA Public Programs Office, visit

Media Alert

For Immediate Release
April Sheppard
(870) 972-2766


At the Dean B. Ellis and Jonesboro Public Libraries……

The Dean B. Ellis Library at Arkansas State University and the Jonesboro Public Library are sponsoring a series of programs in conjunction with “Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story” a new television documentary about the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) to be broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel HD. The FWP was a small section of President Franklin Roosevelt’s mammoth Works Progress Administration, designed to get America back to work after the Depression. It was responsible for the American Guide Series of travel guides for every state and for interviews with former slaves and thousands of citizens all across the U.S. in the 1930s. Many writers from the project later became famous, among them Saul Bellow, Zora Neale Hurston, Studs Terkel and Eudora Welty.

The first program in the series is Arkansas WPA State Guide by Dr. Michael Dougan, September 13, 2:00 at the Jonesboro Public Library, Round Room. For information on the entire program series, please visit or call (870) 972-2766.

"Soul of a People” programs are made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: great ideas brought to life.