Colorado Emergency Relief Administration, Weld, Greeley Reservoir, 7/12/1934
Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) Photograph Collection at the Colorado State Archives
Illustrated History of FERA La Junta Municipal Bldg. Denver Mattress Project
W. P. A. Site C. C. C. Site
This fascinating collection displays, both in photographic and documentary form, the myriad of projects that the unemployed citizenry of Colorado labored upon as a part of the Federal Emergency Relief Act during the Great Depression. One volume in this collection focuses on projects from 1 April 1934 to 30 June 1935, and the second volume is organized by county. Many of the projects covered in these books concern road construction, bridge and dam building, sewing projects, and the repair of several public buildings. A sample of this collection is available online along with a history of the FERA in Colorado. To view this collection first hand or to see if we have record of a project in your area of interest do not hesitate to contact the Colorado State Archives.
Illustrated History of FERA in Colorado
The following passages were taken from Colorado Works Division E. R. A. Apr. 1, 1934 - June 30, 1935. Colorado State Archives F. E. R. A. Collection, pgs. 5 - 7. RCC # 60216.
"Each county has an administrator or director of relief or both depending on the case load. Counties with case loads of 1000 or over have a project engineer. The state was divided into 6 districts for each of which there was a district engineer, answerable to and working under instructions of the Chief Engineer of the Works Division On account of the large number of projects, Denver and Pueblo counties were treated as separate districts with a District Engineer for each. All six District Engineers were in constant touch with the Chief Engineer. Three of them resided in Denver and were at headquarters at least once a week
Each project was supervised by one or more supervisors or foremen, selected for their peculiar fitness and knowledge of the work. If possible they were drawn from relief rolls. If not, they were selected from non-relief unemployed. The foremen and supervisors made daily or weekly reports to the project engineer or administrator and the District Engineer visited the projects weekly or oftener to check on the quantity of the work to see that it was according to the plans or original outline and up to good construction or production standards. Some projects worked two six hour shifts
With this constant interchange of information the works division was constantly aware of the needs of communities and the available relief labor therein and the ability and willingness of sponsorship therein. Thus a work program was constantly planned ahead so that scarcely ever was there a time when persons were idle because of no work to which they could be assigned
Where projects had inter-relations they were appropriately coordinated. Projects did not work at cross purposes. For example projects to quarry and transport stone for riprap were operated to supply such stone as needed and used on the riprap project.
When possible projects were of size and number to utilize labor where it resided thence the greatest number of road projects and construction work in rural districts. In cities and towns where possible there were sewing and other production projects and non-manual projects to use as far as possible the various types of available labor both male and female. Many applications were made for meritorious and worth while projects such as building a large dam or similar large structure in counties where the total relief labor could not make a worth while start. Such applications were rejected in favor of the general policy of smaller projects distributed among the laborers as close as possible to where they reside. Since Colorado is largely rural this is an important consideration
Projects were planned for continuity of employment and were either extended or new projects started to succeed them. Due to high wages paid in some cases, the clients assignments were short and toward the end of this month some projects were not fully manned on that account but where possible assignments were staggered to take care of that situation
Relief clients were not petted or coddled. A large per cent of them were excellent workers. If they would not or could not do a days work they were transferred from one project to another hoping that somewhere they would either wake up or that some supervisor might set them right or eventually they might find themselves in a place where they could or would make good. If not, direct relief was about all there was left for them. Some supervisors made every possible effort, often with good results, to get clients to brace up and enter into the spirit of the job and aquit themselves as men or women. Much good was accompanied along this line. In no case did supervisors take the attitude that such clients were hopeless. They tried to develop the best there was in such people and get them to buck up and do their best "
last modified June 18, 2003