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The People’s Recorder is a new podcast series that connects audiences with the tumult and intimate stories of New Deal writers, artists and the people who inspired them in the 1930s. The series traces a journey through communities across America, through the lens of workers on the Federal Writers’ Project and other New Deal arts programs. These creators had a mandate to paint a portrait of America, warts and all, during a crisis. Facing people’s realities of inequality, racism and poverty, they found new mediums for telling those stories: travel guidebooks (the WPA guides), oral histories, audio recordings, and epic murals. The series draws on archival audio and conversations with writers and historians including Amy Bloom, Douglas Brinkley, Maryemma Graham, Dagoberto Gilb, Mary Gordon, James McBride, Loretta Metoxen, Kiki Petrosino, and more, as well as original interviews with FWP alums Stetson Kennedy and Studs Terkel. 

Growing out of the book Soul of a People and the award-winning documentary film of the same title, the series is produced with grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and other generous funders. Click below to visit the podcast site and sign up to receive alerts.


David Taylor writes about revealing connections between people and their worlds. His writing about people, food, health and science has appeared in SmithsonianThe Washington Post, Mother JonesScience, Undark, and Oxford American.