New Deal exhibit opens in LuverneLUVERNE — A lagging economy and higher than usual unemployment rates today, while certainly not at the levels seen during the Great Depression, still mirror somewhat the state of the nation before President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the federal New Deal program in 1933.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
LUVERNE — A lagging economy and higher than usual unemployment rates today, while certainly not at the levels seen during the Great Depression, still mirror somewhat the state of the nation before President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the federal New Deal program in 1933.
Now, area residents have an opportunity to see, through photographs, stories and video clips, what led a nation back to work at a time when unemployment nationwide was nearly 25 percent.
The Minnesota Historical Society’s traveling exhibit, “Uncle Sam’s New Deal,” is on display now through Nov. 12, at the Rock County Veterans Memorial Building, 213 E. Luverne St., in Luverne.
The traveling exhibit, made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.
Uncle Sam’s New Deal highlights four of the federal programs that put people back to work, building infrastructure that — in many cases — is still used today. As part of the exhibit, both the Blue Mounds State Park and the Jasper High School are featured as Works Progress Administration projects.
“Basically, it was a stimulus package after the Great Depression,” said Jane Wildung Lanphere, director of the Luverne Area Chamber of Commerce. “Roosevelt introduced it to get people back to work.”
Highlighted in the traveling exhibit are the Historical Records Survey, the National Park Service, Public Works Administration and the Works Progress Administration, and how those projects benefited communities all across Minnesota.
“The National Parks Service brought establishment of the state parks,” Lanphere said, adding that Blue Mounds State Park just north of Luverne was created in 1937 as the Mound Springs Recreation Reserve.
A year earlier, work began in the park to build a lake, dam, restroom and shelter. An estimated 65 workers hired through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) completed the projects.
The WPA also built the Rock River bridge in Luverne that was torn down in 2009 and replaced.
Nationwide, the WPA alone employed 8.5 million people over the course of its eight years and spent $11 billion. It was eliminated during World War II by the Conservative Coalition in the U.S. Congress.
Several New Deal programs remain in use today, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Social Security System and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Visitors to the exhibit during its stay in Luverne will be able to read all about how the New Deal program impacted Minnesota. In addition to numerous panels containing stories and photographs, there is also a small viewing area where people can select from five different video clips explaining the New Deal, and half a dozen songs written during that period of change in America.
“Many of those people that served in World War II and established the Greatest Generation, they came from very humble beginnings at a time when very few people had money or had resources,” Lanphere said.
The New Deal exhibit is part of the Greatest Generation Project, which is now on display at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.