When President Roosevelt formed the National Youth
Administration (NYA) in 1935, he declared that it would address
"the most pressing and immediate needs" of American young people.
Richard A. Reiman explores the various and sometimes conflicting
ways in which the NYA defined those needs and attempted to answer
them. The NYA was set up to assist the millions of youth during the
Depression who were ineligible for the New Deal's own Civilian
Conservation Corps. Contrary to popular belief, Reiman argues, New
Dealers did not envision the NYA primarily as a "junior WPA," a
trigger for civil rights reform, or a springboard for the careers
of liberal administrators. Rather, its designers saw it as a reform
agency that would advance and protect democracy by countering
totalitarian appeals to young people and by equalizing educational
opportunities for rich and poor.
Based on a wide range of sources, including NYA-related
documents at the National Archives and the Franklin D. Roosevelt
Library, "The New Deal and American Youth" is the first full-length
study of this important agency. By showing how the NYA served as an
instrument for realizing so many New Deal ambitions, it offers rich
insights into not only the NYA but the New Deal as well.
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