Manchester residents and library patrons can now read the original hand- and type-written works of local history, oral history, musicology, etc. from the NH Writers Project, thanks to a grant from the NH Conservation and Heritage License Plate Program.
The NH Writers Project was part of a national effort called the Federal Writers Project, one of many programs falling under the Works Project Administration (WPA). In 1935, President Roosevelt, as part of the New Deal, initiated programs like the WPA to put Americans back to work during the Great Depression.
In 1942 the Manchester City Library was chosen as the recipient for the NH Writers Project material. Some of the completed manuscripts include the History of Lake Winnipesaukee, History of Music in New Hampshire, Iron Industry in New Hampshire, My Old Village in the Province of Quebec and New Hampshire and Manchester Architecture. There are also numerous incomplete publications and unpublished research notes.
While valuable, the papers and photographs are too delicate to make available to the public. Being original materials, they are also irreplaceable. If the library were to microfilm the original material, then it could make the material available to the public while preserving and protecting it from damage. A microfilm copy would also allow us to digitize the material so that we could at some future time make the material available on our website.
Thanks to the efforts of Cynthia O’Neil, who maintained the library’s NH Room collection for many years before her retirement last year, the library applied for and was awarded a Moose Plate Grant of $4,826, the amount required for New England Micrographics of Marlborough, MA to complete the filming. The NH Writers Project material took up nearly 6 linear feet of shelf space, and now resides on 15 reels of microfilm. Copies are available not only at the Manchester City Library, but also at the New Hampshire State Library, and the Dimond Library at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. The master negatives will be retained by the New Hampshire State Archives.
Visit MoosePlate.com for more information.