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We're Pounding Clay and Taking Naps

October 23, 2002

Almanac Transcript

We’re pounding clay and taking naps this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello, I’m Steven Knoche Kite.

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the accompanying depression mark one of the most extreme economic downturns in our country's history. Hundreds of thousands of people found themselves out of work, homeless and starving. Those with families to care for endured even greater suffering as they watched their children go hungry day after day.

In an effort to end such misery Franklin Roosevelt’s, "New Deal" provided initiated a large number of government supported programs intended to bring aid and relief to the general population. One such New Deal program was the Emergency Education Program. Under the direction of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the Emergency Education Program included among its components government sponsored and supported Day Care for needy kids between the ages of two and five. The main goals of the program were to provide work for unemployed teachers and improve the physical, mental and social equipment of pre-school children from under-privileged homes; assist parents in care and training of children and to develop a program for demonstrating suitable environments for such children to schools, homes and welfare agencies.

Once each state organized their individual programs, federal funds made their way through the state and eventually local offices. It was in this week of 1933 that the Emergency Nursery School Program officially became a part of the Oklahoma New Deal. Before long government sponsored day care facilities sprang up in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, Stillwater, Enid, Shawnee, Lawton, Durant, Ardmore, Idabel, Holdenville, and Vinita as well as Panama in LeFlore County.

The individual towns were responsible for providing the buildings, heat, water and other utilities. Nursery Centers were housed in churches, and public school buildings as well as rented houses. A voluntary parents group aided in sewing clothes and building playground and other equipment for each local facility. The program, despite a continued shortage of funds, proved extremely successful and continued even into the war years of the 1940s. The nursery program then, however, provided badly needed day care for all of the "Rosie the Riveters" working at the various airplane and munitions plants around the state. With the end of the war and the return of economic prosperity, the federal government stopped funding the program and the program thereby ending it in 1946.

The New Deal giving a new chance to Oklahoma kids this week on the Almanac.

I'm Steven Knoche Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of the Oklahoma State University Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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