WPA Report Front Page
This page contains some information of interest to first-time visitors of the Works Projects Administration Report. If you are already familiar with the report's content and limitations, you may skip this introductory page and go directly to the Jefferson County WPA lookup page by clicking here.
As a result of the Great Depression which began in 1929, the government created a series of programs to help America get back on its feet. In 1935, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created and it put out-of-work Americans to work performing such tasks as paving roads, creating parks, and improving the country's infrastructure. In 1939, it was renamed the Works Projects Administration. By the time World War II broke out and America got involved in 1941 the public was working to support the war effort, and the WPA became a fading program. It was terminated in 1943.
The WPA funded, among other programs, the Historical Records Survey which compiled indexes of vital records including cemetery interments. While the original intent of the interment survey was to record the burial places of the nation's military personnel who weren't interred in National Cemeteries, some survey personnel interpreted this request a bit differently. Of Iowa's 99 counties, 17 failed to comply with the survey; fortunately, Jefferson County was one that did. We are also lucky that the surveyers here chose to go over and above the military personnel requirement, and attempted to record all county burials.
It is not clear what the effective date of this interment survey was supposed to be, but after going through Jefferson County's report the latest death date I have found is May 27, 1940. The original source(s) for this survey, while not known, are suspected to be the cemeteries themselves in addition to newspaper archives. Each burial was written on its own index card, the cards were then put in alphabetical order, and a report was typed from them. Jefferson County's report is some 290 pages long and contains more than 9800 burials.
A few words of caution for this report as it applies to Jefferson County:
All in all, the compilation of this index was a monumental effort. The WPA Report should be relied on as supporting information however, and not as a primary source such as a birth or death record. It should be noted that the information in the Post-em corrections I've put online has come from Jefferson County's vital records and other local information sources such as obituaries and the many Family Group Sheets in the Genealogy section of the Fairfield Library.
- Joey Stark, Jefferson County Coordinator.
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