The first 12 pages were WPA forms 507—Individual Earnings Records. They were in order from last to first, so the first page began with May 1942. The twelfth page began with November 1935.
Huh. He worked for WPA from 1935 until 1942.
An IER shows, depending on the year, the number of hours assigned to work, pay dates, occupation, hours worked, rate of pay, amount paid, the project number he was working on, etc. For example, the first IER indicates his initial assignment date was 11 November 1935; the pay period ended 15 November. He worked 14 hours as a laborer on project #65-41-651/2359, and was paid $4.40. The last IER’s pay period information indicates he was assigned 60 hours, worked 18 hours on project #7327 and earned $6.12.
Study and analysis of the IERs revealed 1938 and 1940 were the only two years Granddaddy worked for the WPA from January through December. He didn’t work from ’35 til ’42 continuously as I first thought. There were rules prohibiting more than 18 months continuous employment with the WPA. He did work from October 1937 through August of 1939—a 23-month stretch. Must have fallen through the cracks....
His various pay rates included $35.20/month (1935), 40¢/hour, 30¢/hour, $48.10/month, $52.80/month (1940), and $40.80/month. His highest WPA earnings year was 1940. He was paid $658.84. He worked 1629 hours. Yup, 40¢ per hour. With six children and a wife to provide for, he was undoubtedly glad to get it.
There were 16 documents (sometimes two to a page) in the second set of 11 pages and they too were in order from last to first. The first was his final WPA form 403—Termination of Employment. The effective date was 1 May 1942. His last position was as a “Helper (non-const)” on project #7327. Curiously, he was “white.” Further review of the eleven pages show he was “w” on seven of 11 forms where race was noted. Must have been in a hurry....
Other documents included Granddaddy’s original Assignment Slip dated 11 November 1935. He had a rather nice signature:
There were two “Reassignment Slips” dated May and July of 1936. They were poor copies, but I was able to make out that he was to report to the “Alderson Sewers” project on Flat Mountain Road. The Sunset Hill PRIVY!! On a side note, CDC mortality statistics show a rate of 12.7 typhoid and paratyphoid fever deaths per 100,000 people for the state of WV in 1931 compared to a rate of 4.5 for the United States. By 1939, West Virginia’s rate had dropped to 2.9 compared to 1.5 for the US. Must have been those privies....
Then, a curious thing happened in the paper procession. The next week, a Notice to Report, dated 2 August 1939 was issued “Cancelling 403 dated July 28, 1939, effective August 8, 1939, in conformity with Col F. C. Harringtons telegram of July 29, 1939.” He was told to report back as a laborer on project #5863 at the Federal Industrial Institution in Summers County (a women’s prison), effective 2 August 1939.
What? Who is Col. Harrington?
An article dated 29 July 1939 in The St. Louis Star and Times cleared up the confusion.
So, Granddaddy went back to work at the women’s prison on 8 August following another Notice to Report dated 5 August bearing an effective date correction. And was terminated again effective 16 August 1939.
What? What happened?
Back to the newspapers for the answer. The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky answered my question:
The day after Thanksgiving 1939, a Notice to Report was issued to Granddaddy effective the following Monday. He went back to work at the women’s prison.
Another Notice to Report dated 3 September 1940 was issued to him. It was a “Change in assignment status.” His wage class changed from unskilled to intermediate. He had been promoted from “laborer” to “Cement Finisher’s Helper” at the women’s prison. That’s when his wage rate went to $52.80 per month. It translated to 44¢/hour as he was required to work 60 hours per two-week pay period.
The subsequent Notice to Report was a correction of his identification number.
The next Notice of Termination was effective 22 January 1941. The reason: “Not needed on this project.”
The first of December 1941, he received a Notice to Report as “Helper (non-const)” on project #7327 School Lunch Project, Monroe County. This time he would bring home $40.80 per month.
Genealogy is very much about placing a person in a place at a time. Sometimes the place and time are specific and exact; sometimes they are broad or vague.
The information from the WPA personnel records is specific and exact. It helped me establish Granddaddy’s work history. Before I received the records I only knew he worked at DuPont for 20 years, the Cedar’s, the Presbyterian Church and the WPA. Now I have a timeline for those events. I know he only worked for the church and on the Cedar’s farm between 1942 and 1949.
I also now know that my Granddaddy helped reduce typhoid fever rates, improved secondary farm-to-market roads, and helped school children get a hot meal.
Wish I could tell him how proud I am to be his granddaughter.