Out of School, Out of Work: Youth, Community, and the National Youth Administration in Ohio, 1935–1943
- Ohio Valley History
- The Filson Historical Society and Cincinnati Museum Center
- Volume 4, Number 2, Summer 2004
- pp. 27-40
- Additional Information
Out of School, Out of Work: Youth, Community,and the National Youth Administration in Obio, 19351943 KEVIN R BOWER n September 1939,William Hiestand,a bank employee from Eaton, Ohio, traveled to New York City to address the National Advisory Committee of the relief agency called the National Youth Administration ( NYA).Hiestand' s presence at the meeting was likely the suggestion of the man who accompanied him,young and energetic Ohio NYA director S. Burns Weston. Hiestand expected to tell the Advisory Committee about the good work the NYA had performed in his 1 small, mostly agricultural community,a bit of good news in a f Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio month overshadowed by the German invasion of Poland and the , onset of World War II in Europe. Those with whom Hiestand i ANNUAL REPORT, 1937 would speak that day included First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, NYA director Aubrey Williams,and a host of others thought to have insight into America' s perceived " youth problem." In addressing the committee, Hiestand explained how cooperation between the NYA and local agencies had put unemployed young people to work constructing a youth center that could serve his community for years to come. A local council had suggested the project and the town had put up $ 1,000 to purchase land. The National Youth From January to June ve were f rtunate enough to have fs three students supplied by the National Youth Admin-straton, who wo ked for us part t'me. One paq ed clippings, and d'd some marking and filing under 11ss Wuest' s supervs 'on, wl ile Miss Alart'n trained the other two to type cards. S' nce our . i piclure colection was n ade ava'lable for use last year we have been anxious to know what mater'al coi ld be found 'n printed .* sources. For this purpose. some th'rtyfive books or tit es, on Cincinnal' and Ohio n genera . ne e seard ed fr portraits. Miss 1\ Iart'n reports that the typ'sts made about four thousand index cards. W'th the beginn', g of the present sc] 0) 1 vear in Seplember the N.Y.A. quota was great y reduced. We are now 01 ly all"· ri o: e student so we regret that this wo · k m ist necessarily. be d'. continued for a time at lei st. mmm=:!:= 8** 24 Administration in turn had provided $ 500 to cover building materials ( some locals also donated goods) and it hired outof school youth from the community to complete the project. The construction of the center provided the NYA workers with ; both wages and training in construction,plumbing,and electr c installation. According to Hiestand, several of the NYA workers subsequently put their training to use and found employment on private construction projects. In addition,the dedication of the youth center had been a matter of some pride in Eaton. The " whole town turned out," schools were closed, a parade was held, ind Ohio NYA director Weston delivered a speech.1 In fact, the NYA' s activities in Eaton seemed to be a model of the NYA' s approach . It was locally initiated and at least partially funded with community money; it created something of value to the entire community;and it provided relief and valuable occupational training for young people who thereby became more integrated into the life and economy of their local community. In 1937 three NYA students tool' ked in tbe library of tbe Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio. Tbe Society' s annital report described their accomplishments. Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati Historical Society Library SUMMER 2004 27 OUT OF SCHOOL, OUT OF WORK Originating as a branch of the larger Works Progress Administration ( later Works Projects Administration), the National Youth Administration functioned as the sole New Deal agency explicitly dedicated to serving American youth. While other agencies, most notably the Civilian Conservation Corps, aided large numbers of young men as a matter of course, only the NYA aimed to address the special problems associated with late adolescence and young adulthood. The earliest incarnations of the NYA included twin student aid programs implemented at high schools and colleges. These...