Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Powers, Madelon

Second Advisor

Mitchell, Mary


Of the millions of American workers who suffered economically during the Great Depression of the 1930s, musicians in particular fell on hard times. The live music profession had begun to decline even before the onset of the Depression due to the introduction of new acoustic technologies. In 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in an attempt to put the nation back to work through governmentsponsored work projects. One division of the WPA was Federal Music Project (FMP). A great deal has been written about the WPA, but the Music Project has received little scholarly attention, leaving the stories of musicians in New Orleans and other cities largely untold. This study argues that the Federal Music Project in New Orleans was an unusually successful program due to the special talents of its administrators, the rich pre-existing musical heritage of the city, and the generally positive interaction between the people of New Orleans and the FMP.


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