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NMSU Library to sponsor programs of Federal Writers' Project

The New Mexico State University Library is sponsoring "Soul of a People: Writing America's Story," a series of free public programs about the New Deal Federal Writers' Project during April and May. The programs are co-sponsored by the Branigan Cultural Center and the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library.

The first program, "The Great Depression Road Show," will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at the Branigan Cultural Center in downtown Las Cruces. It will include:

?"Favorite Quilt Patterns from the 1930s: From Feedsack Fabrics to Grandmother's Flower Garden" at 9 a.m.
?"1930s Crafts and Games for Children" at10 a.m.
?"Women's Clubs during the Depression Era" at 10 a.m.
?"Slaves, Sidekicks and Healers: Women's Stories collected by the WPA," a storytelling performance at 11 a.m.
?"Jitterbug! Swing Dance demonstration and instruction" at noon.
?"1930s Show and Tell" at 1:30 p.m., in which participants are encouraged to bring items from the 1930s era.
?A showing of excerpts from the documentary "Soul of a People: Writing America's Story," which is produced by Spark Media, at 3 p.m.
?A display of "Home Scenes from the 1930s" will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There will also be a "Collection of Oral Histories about the 1930s" from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., in which participants can volunteer to tell their recollections of the era. Call (575) 646-6925 or (575) 646-4385 to schedule a session in advance.

Other programs in the Soul of a People series will be:

?"New Mexico's Voices: Local Oral Histories from the Writers' Project," a presentation by Jon Hunner of NMSU's Public History Program on April 18 on the fourth floor of Branson Library.
?"New Mexico: A Guide to a Colorful State," a program on a travel guide presented by Mardi Mahaffy and Sylvia Ortiz of the NMSU Library on April 27 on the fourth floor of Branson Library.
?Sarah Hagelin of the NMSU English Department will discuss the novel "The Surrounded" by D'Arcy McNickle on May 4 at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library.

Throughout May, a series of films and discussions on the Depression Era will be held at the Branigan Library.

The Federal Writers' Project was part of President Franklin Roosevelt's mammoth Works Progress Administration, designed to get Americans back to work after the Great Depression. It was responsible for the American Guide Series of travel guides for every state and for interviews with former slaves and thousands of citizens all across the U.S. in the 1930s.

Many writers from the Federal Writers' Project later became famous, such as Saul Bellow, Zora Neale Hurston, Studs Terkel and Eudora Welty.

The NMSU Library's programming is presented in conjunction with a major documentary television program about the Federal Writers' Project produced by Spark Media of Washington, D.C., titled "Soul of a People: Writing America's Story." The documentary will be broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel HD at http://www.smithsonianchannel.com.

"Soul of a People" programs in libraries nationwide are sponsored by the American Library Association's (ALA) Public Programs Office with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The local programs are made possible by a Soul of a People grant to the NMSU Library from the NEH with additional funding from the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico.

For more information contact Mahaffy at (575) 646-6925 or mmahaffy@lib.nmsu.edu, Ortiz at (575) 646-7481 or sortiz@lib.nmsu.edu, or visit http://lib.nmsu.edu/projects/soul/.