These are all the original tours from the Washington, A Guide to the Evergreen State first published in 1941 as our state’s contribution to the massive American Guide Series. The entire series included volumes on every one of the then 48 states as well as several cities and distinct locales. Conceived as a Federal New Deal project during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the guides were part history, part cultural record and part travel maps. Over a period of almost a decade, thousands of writers, artists, photographers, mapmakers and professional wanderers traveled the country’s roadways in a remarkable effort to “record the landscape of the American mind.”
The American Guide Series was seen in the 1930’s as a way of encouraging tourism and lifting national pride and morale. It was administered by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as part of the Federal Writer’s Project. “Americans Discover America” was the way WPA head Harry Hopkins referred to the colossal project. Each state employed its own workforce of historians, cultural diarists, travel writers and photographers.
The Washington Guide was one of the last and largest to be published by any state. It was written in the rich, flowing narrative style of pre-war documentaries and was illustrated with moving illustrations and photographs by artists like Dorthea Lange. The second edition of the guide was published in 1943, followed by a third edition in 1945 and the last edition in 1950.