Historian Jerrold Hirsch leads a presentation called Portrait of America: A Cultural History of the Federal Writers' Project, examining the lasting value derived from this government program on Wednesday, September 2, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
As a leading cultural component of the New Deal program of political and economic reform, the FWP writers seized their opportunity to conduct a nationwide study of American identity – condensed into detailed guides to every state in the Union as well as oral history compilations. The project brought working class artists operating on a grassroots level together with white collar administrative intellectuals in Washington, D.C. Director Henry Alsberg sought to redefine American culture by embracing its diversity, and his agents considered the challenges of creating literature in a new urban-industrialized world. Alsberg thought that by introducing America to Americans, the FWP could both celebrate diversity and promote national unity.
Hirsch is a history professor at Truman State University. His specialty includes 20th century American intellectual and cultural history. He is author of the book Portrait of America: A Cultural History of the Federal Writers’ Project, published by the University of North Carolina Press.
Admission is free. Click here  or call 816.701.3407 to RSVP. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage located at 10th and Baltimore.
The Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) helped define America and American literature by supporting literary talent during the Great Depression. In association with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association, the Kansas City Public Library commemorates the 75th anniversary of this New Deal program with a series of free events  throughout September and October 2009, including a screening of the documentary Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story.
Soul of a People programs in libraries are sponsored by the American Library Association Public Programs Office with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities: great ideas brought to life.