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Horses & History | June 2, 2015
From 1929 to 1939 the western industrialized nations were on their knees. The Great Depression had hit and while some men jumped off buildings having lost everything in the stock market, others rode the rails, moved from state to state and begged and borrowed in an attempt to keep themselves and their families alive. Many died.
In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration (WPA) under his 1933 New Deal initiative. The WPA was designed to get people back on their feet, and men began to work on construction projects including schools, power plants and road building sites. It also became clear that it was time to get women back to work and off the dole so a most inventive and innovative program called the Pack Horse Library Project of Eastern Kentucky was created.
The region serviced by these pack horse librarians (mostly women) was the mining territory of Eastern Kentucky, and life was not easy for the resident families who had no chance of a different life or escape. Health and safety measures were few and far between, Black Lung disease killed men by the hundreds, and the pay was poor. In these mining regions and out of the way backwaters, people subsisted in ramshackle houses with no running water, electricity or insulation. However, in 1935 thanks to the Pack Horse Library Project, librarians making $28 a month, began to make their way to these forlorn towns and farms, and without roads, they got there riding on tough mules and horses...
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