New Book Recovers the WPA History of African-Americans in Illinois

The Negro in Illinois-Book Cover“Brian Dolinar’s new book, The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers, was released this summer, and if the title sounds dated it’s because the book began its long road to publication in the late 1930s but was sidelined by two formidable obstacles — World War II and a rejection letter.

How Dolinar came to complete the book is a story of a nearly decade-long effort to do justice to work started by a team of more than 100 African-American writers hired to document black life and history for one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration programs.

To recreate the manuscript, Dolinar searched for missing chapters across several states and painstakingly sifted through more than 10,000 pages of documents typed on cheap paper that at one point had been disintegrating….”

To read the rest of this story in The Chicago Tribune, click here.

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Richard Walker is the director of the Living New Deal

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