Grapes of Wrath Supplement and Lesson: THE FEDERAL ARTS PROJECTS


In this supplement-lesson students examine the WPA’s  Federal Music Project and Federal Writers’ Project and the politics that made them possible. Students learn how the FMP opened opportunities for female musicians and people of color in the nation’s orchestras, introduced American composers to America for the first time, created orchestras in cities across the nation, and gave 224,698 performances to 150 million Americans at very low prices in both large cities and small towns. In the Federal Writers’ section they learn that the FWP helped launch the careers of famous American writers, including Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow, and John Cheever, gathered 2300 of slave narratives (oral histories), which otherwise would have been lost forever, and created the very popular American Guide Series, which focused on the lives of ordinary people, regional history, culture and folklore. (For an examination of the Federal Theatre Project see “Uncle Sam in the Limelight” in The Grapes of Wrath and the American Dream.) The supplement also provides an overview of the politics behind the termination of the Federal Writer’s Project and includes an exciting American Guide Series writing project with online access to American Guide Series text.



This Grapes of Wrath Supplement is designed for students to use online.

NEXUS is a nonprofit. Our mission is to provide secondary schools with highly engaging literature-based interdisciplinary learning materials that inspire students to read closely, link literature, history and art to their personal lives, and explore the nexus between disciplines, while exercising cross-curriculum thinking skills.

A portion of our proceeds is donated annually to UNICEF’S Audrey Hepburn All Children in School Fund.


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