News - from the past & the present

This man from Springville, Alabama became head of one of the largest programs in the United States and most people don’t know his name.

Did you or your parents participate in this program? Share your experiences in the comments below.


June 26, 1935 was an important day for Alabama native, Aubrey Willis Williams. (the man in the photograph below).

One story leads to another

It’s amazing how often I discover a new story about an Alabamian from a seemingly minor article. I ran across the following headline in The Tuscaloosa News July 7, 1943 and decided to investigate it further.

Here is the newspaper article.

University NYA Suspends Work

Agency Had Spent $870,000 in 7 Years

A total of about $870,000 was spent at the University during the past seven years in the various phases of the National Youth Administration program, it was revealed today. The program was discontinued this week by act of Congress.

The largest portion, or about $500,000 was spent in the past two years in the special NYA production training program which provided vocational training for 240 students a month under the supervision of R. R. Schmitz.

This program, as well as all other NYA work, was eliminated this week when Congress voted to discontinue the agency. All students in the vocational training program were evacuated from Woods Hall and the old Governor’s mansion located at the corner of Queen city and University Avenue. They were taken to their homes in trucks and private cars.

About 2,000 West Alabama boys and girls had been trained under this program and many were placed with the Mobile shipyards and mechanical departments at Brookley Field, Glen Martin bomber plants and the Federal Radio commission. The students were paid $40 a month during their 12-weeks training.

Since the NYA was inaugurated in 1935, some 4,000 regular students at the University had been assisted to continue their studies according to the records of the University accountant, W. E. Pickens.

Under the program the needy students performed clerical and manual labor duties at the University and were paid from $10 to $35 a month. The number of students receiving such aid reached a peak of 700 in 1940-41 and had dropped to around 300 this year, it was said. Approximately $300,000 was spent in this program from 1935 until the present year.

Buildings and shop equipment for the vocational training courses were furnished by the University without charge. It was understood that additional equipment may be taken back by the NYA in the liquidation of the program.

United States Program was run by an Alabamian

Wikiepedia states the following about the National Youth Administration.

The National Youth Administration (NYA) was a New Deal agency in the United Stats that focused on providing work and education for Americans between the ages of 16 and 25.

It operated from June 26, 1935 to 1939 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Following the passage of the Reorganization Act of 1939, the NYA was transferred from the WPA to the Federal Security Agency. In 1942, the NYA was transferred to the War Manpower Commission (WMC). The NYA was dissolved in 1943.

school - making bedspresds

Girls making bedspreads at Gees Bend, Alabama 1938 This was also part of the National Youth Administration Program. (Library of Congress)

NYA included young women

By 1938, college youth were paid from $6 to $40 a month for “work study” projects at their schools. Another 155,000 boys and girls from relief families were paid $10 to $25 a month for part-time work that included job training. Unlike the Civilian Conservation Corps, it included young women. The youth normally lived at home, and worked on construction or repair projects. Its annual budget was approximately $58,000,000.

The NYA was headed by Aubrey Willis Williams, a prominent liberal from Alabama who was close to Harry Hopkins and Eleanor Roosevelt. The head of the Texas division at one point was Lyndon B. Johnson, who was later to become president of the United States.

Aubrey Willis Williams (Harris and Ewing photographers, Library of Congress)

Aubrey Willis Williams 1938 (Harris and Ewing photographers, Library of Congress)

Aubrey Willis Williams was born in Springville, Alabama on August 23, 1890. He grew up in impoverished circumstances but with perseverance, and working to educated himself, his hard work paid off and he was appointed on July 26, 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Assistant Federal Relief Administrator, the second highest ranking U.S. relief official. Read more about his life and accomplishments on Wikipedia and in the book:

A Southern Rebel: The Life and Times of Aubrey Willis Williams, 1890-1965 (The Fred W. Morrison series in Southern studies)

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A Southern Rebel: The Life and Times of Aubrey Willis Williams, 1890-1965 (The Fred W. Morrison series in Southern studies)


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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me
All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
She has authored numerous genealogy books.
RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2)
is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series)
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1)
is the continuation of the story. .
For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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