AUGUST 15, 1941
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I have just received a letter which, in itself, would not be so significant, but taken together with various other reports reaching me, is very disquieting. I am quoting it here approximately as it is written, changing only such things as might identify the writer.
"Several years ago, like many others, my family suffered financial reverses and we accepted FERA work, but not relief. I have supported my mother, who is a chronic invalid, and assisted my father through wages received through WPA work. From December 1938 to May 1941, I was fortunate to be on the administrative staff, first as a stenographer and later as an occupational interviewer, receiving when I left, $1440 a year.
"My record for this period had been excellent, I was dropped from payrolls through no fault of my own, and was thankful that I had been permitted to hold the job as long as I had. I desired to try my luck in private industry.
"I started June 1st, making a tour of every agency handling stenographic, clerical and typing positions. The interviewers show their interest in my appearance, my ability to operate a typewriter, stenography and my ambition to continue college, even if it meant working at night; yet they are sorry they can do nothing for me because I have worked for the Works Progress Administration, and I will not lie about my work history. **** I am 26 years of age, of good parentage, have good training, good educational background, am attending Columbia with money saved over a period of five years in order to learn steno-typing, and yet I can not get a job in New York City unless I lie, because I worked on WPA."
A similar picture is fairly true in other parts of the country. While this is not a universal experience, there are still enough employers who have this attitude to make it a very serious situation. Some eight and a half million Americans temporarily found work on WPA during the last six years. Their abilities and talents represent a pretty good cross-section of the American public and it seems to me very sad that any employer anywhere should not recognize that misfortune has come to people regardless of their own wishes or abilities.