WPA Today   

National Defense



WPA Poster

The WPA & National Defense Work in Maryland
(See Photos Below!)

     Before World War II, the WPA helped America strengthen its national defense by building or improving military bases, airports, and armories.  As the war neared, and then finally drew America in, the WPA doubled-down on its national defense work, even as its ranks were thinned by WPA workers leaving for the armed services or the defense industries.  As I've stated elsewhere, many WPA men risked or sacrificed their lives so that we could have the freedom to enjoy the things they built, repaired, or improved all across the country. 

     In Maryland, the WPA worked at the Naval Academy,
Fort Meade, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Camp Ritchie, the Pikesville Armory, the Edgewood Arsenal, the Coast Guard station at Curtis Bay, the Fifth Regiment Armory, the Holabord Quartermaster Depot, and a Naval Militia armory that was on Key Highway in Baltimore.  The WPA also worked on several airports in Maryland, which aided America's defense (see my Airports exhibit).

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Photo credits: Unless otherwise noted, all black and white photos were taken by the WPA, are in the public domain, and provided courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.  All color photos--unless otherwise noted--were taken by Brent McKee.  Click here for more information on photo credits, permission to use, and exhibit descriptions.



Above: Constructing a building at Camp Ritchie, Washington County.  Camp Ritchie served as a military intelligence training center during World War II (Maryland WPA project #3276, April 1938).


Above: The WPA built this garage at the Pikesville Armory, Baltimore County (Maryland WPA project #354, October 1936). 


Above: WPA men paving the plaza of the National Guard Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore City (Maryland WPA project #194, May 1936).


Above: Working on an access road to Fort Meade.  During World War II, Fort Meade served (among other functions) as a prisoner of war camp (Maryland WPA project #3762-42, April 1941).


Above: Construction at Aberdeen Proving Ground, May 1939.  During World War II, Aberdeen Proving Ground served as an ordnance (material and weapons) testing & training center.  The description card for this photograph reads: "View of Administration Building under construction work under WPA, included that necessary to complete foundation walls.  From that point, work is being carried on under PWA contractors." (The project #'s for this job are listed as 713-2-46, F.A. and 713-2-104, F.A., which may denote that this had a federal project # as opposed to a Maryland project #).


Above: More construction at Aberdeen Proving Ground, May 1939.  The description card for this photograph reads: "Building N.C.O. quarters, double dwellings.  Walls are constructed of Port Deposit granite (random ashlor) banked up by cinder block."  (Same project #'s as before, see special note under previous photograph).


Above: Improving a road at Aberdeen Proving Ground (Maryland WPA project #3517, May 1939)


Above: A foundation for a school at Aberdeen Proving Ground, May 1939 (like two of the previous photos, this may have had a special federal project #: 713-2-46, F.A. and 713-2-104, F.A.). 
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