Mississippi: A Guide to the Magnolia State.
New York: Oxford UP, 1938.


Wordage, Poundage, Yardage: Inventing and Operating the American Baedeker Machine

Designing a Landscape of Words: Genre Negotiations, Composition Policies, and Stylistic Features of the Guides

Patchwork Quilt of These United States: The Rhetoric of Cultural Enthusiasm in Contemporary Reviews of the American Guides

Un-American Guides and Pink Baedekers: The Red Scare of the Federal Writers' Project

A Fabricated Nation: The Politics of Democratic National Portraiture

Vintage Snapshots from Alabama to Wyoming: Reflections of a Cultural Nation in State Profiles


This site provides an introduction to the work of the Federal Writers' Project, specifically the American Guide Series. I am excerpting my Ph.D. research (1998, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität), which has been published as Vintage Snapshots: The Fabrication of a Nation in the WPA American Guide Series.

Vintage Snapshots revisits the America of the 1930s through a series of state guide books published by the Federal Writer's Project. It explores the contextual occasion of the American Guides and the mechanics of their making. Their hybrid form - part fiction, part encyclopedia, part travel guide - is interpreted in light of the official American Guide Manual. Contemporary reviews of the guides reveal the extent of enthusiasm over their accomplishment for American culture. Vintage Snapshots also investigates the American Guide Series' troubled relationship with anti-New Deal forces. The politics of national portraiture are placed in the context of previous literary attempts to reproduce the entirety of America in words. A state-by-state compendium records the content of individual guides.

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Petra Schindler-Carter received both her M.A. (1995) and Ph.D. (1998) in American Studies, Philosophy, and Psychology from Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz (Germany). She studied American literature and history at SUNY Binghamton and taught writing at the University of Michigan (1995 to 1997).


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