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WPA Archaeological Photo Archives

wpa collection

Visit the WPA Archaeological Photo Archives


This online database features photographs taken by Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers of archaeological projects conducted in preparation for Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) dam construction in the 1930s.

The New Deal’s public works projects of the 1930s profoundly affected archaeology in the southeastern United States. With federal funding from the WPA, university archaeologists conducted large field projects that provided work for the unemployed. In the Tennessee River Valley, these projects were carried out in conjunction with construction of reservoirs by another Depression-era federal agency, the TVA.

The archaeological collections and records that are the legacy of these projects thus contain a wealth of information pertinent to current archaeological problems, but are also relevant to historical research about the development of the discipline.