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The Federal Writers Project and Depression-Era Publishing

fwp.gifLooking back at publishing stats from the Great Depression is at once frightening and soothing–reminding spooked publishing types that the literary world has been here before, but it has survived.

One GalleyCat editor wrote about the Depression-era work of two poets for the Poetry Foundation, measuring their successes and failures against our contemporary situation. Both were members of the Federal Writers Project, a venture some writers hope the government will revive.

Here are some familiar statistics: “Historian Monty Noam Penkower details the meltdown’s subsequent catastrophic effect on the literary scene in ‘The Federal Writers’ Project,’ stating that between 1930 and 1933, new books published decreased from 10,000 to barely 7,600, magazine advertising dropped 30 percent, and newspaper ‘mortality rates’ reached 48 percent.”

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