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The WPA Guide to South Dakota

by Federal Writers' Project

In the 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, the federal government put thousands of unemployed writers to work in the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Out of their efforts came the American Guide series, the first comprehensive guidebooks to the people, resources, and traditions of each state in the union. For the South Dakota Guide, there are sections on history, geography, literature, arts, Indians, folklore and regional slang words. There are also sections describing the characteristics, prominent features and history of the major cities of the state. More than half the book describes 15 tours across the state, the sites along each route, cities, towns, and various stops along the way. There are many unusual person and place names in this book, as well as abbreviations including N. E. W. S. for directions, m. for miles, c. for cents (actually this was likely the cent symbol in the original text), slang words, American Indian words, foreign words used by immigrants in the area. Frequently (L) and (R) in the book refer to the location on that page of the print book of a picture being referred to.

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