Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA)

View item information

Factory financed by FERA (Federal Emergency Relief Administration) for producing starch from sweet potatoes. Laurel, Mississippi.

When President Franklin Roosevelt needed someone to come and make an effective plan for relief through the Federal Emergency Relief Act, he knew just whom to call. During Roosevelt’s time as governor of New York, he had become good friends with Harry Hopkins. Hopkins had over 20 years of experience with social work and welfare issues.

Roosevelt realized that most of the federal government’s relief efforts had never been successful because they often got stuck in political wrangling. To prevent these problems, Roosevelt told Hopkins to focus on action rather than the complications of politics.

The three goals of the Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA) were (1) to be effective, (2) provide work for employable people on the relief rolls, and (3) to have a diverse variety of relief programs. FERA provided grants from the federal government to state governments for a variety of projects in fields such as agriculture, the arts, construction and education. Many people who were receiving relief aid were highly trained, skilled workers. The hope was that by providing many different types of jobs and salaries that were similar to workers’ previous jobs the whole country would benefit.

“Essay: The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA),” University of Washington Digital Collections. http://content.lib.washington.edu/feraweb/essay.html