The NYA trainee in this photo, Oyida Peaks, is training to become a mechanic at the Naval Air Base, in the Assembly and Repair Department, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
1941-2: Because of his experience in leading the Texas NYA, the navy assigned LBJ to work on production and manpower problems in Texas, California, and Washington. He received his orders from the Office of Naval Operations on December 11, 1941, and headed to San Francisco soon after.
The photo above is from the Library of Congress, via Flickr. The title is “Lorena Craig is a cowler under civil service at the Naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas.” Corpus Christi has been home to the Naval Air Station since 1941.
This video, Lady Bird Johnson’s Home Movie #9, features hydroelectric power as a theme. Starting around 3:55, she shows us the building of the Mansfield Dam, which helped generate the power “for the farmers,” and and then Buchanan Dam (named after the Congressman who preceded LBJ in District 10).
The dams also created the central Texas lakes, so it is only fair that after the construction scenes we then get to see the Johnsons and their friends enjoying themselves on the water (around 5:40). Also featuring Sam Rayburn; George Brown of Brown and Root Construction, who helped build the dams; and Alvin Wirtz. At about 6:46 Lady Bird talks about the National Youth Administration, and we see NYA roadside parks and workshops.
The first part of the movie, shot in 1943, consists of Lady Bird taking us on a tour of the University of Texas-Austin campus—her alma mater—including landmarks the Littlefield Fountain and the Tower. The Tower is lit orange, because, naturally, UT has just won a football game.
When LBJ left for Congress, he gave the desk set he used while head of the NYA to his successor, J.C. Kellam. Kellam returned it to LBJ in 1969, and now it resides in the LBJ Library and Museum.
1936: Eleanor Roosevelt writes to LBJ to applaud his work on the Texas National Youth Administration, and then decides to visit Austin to observe his work first hand.
“She visited Texas later in the year to ‘find out why the Texas NYA director was doing such an effective job.’ She conferred with Lyndon at his headquarters on the sixth floor of the Littlefield Building and accompanied him to a vocational training center for girls on East Sixth Street and to college campuses running NYA programs.”
Her praise is especially notable considering the NYA was her brainchild.
Dallek, Robert. Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991, p. 143.
(Source: Flickr / fdrlibrary)
Below is an aluminum dagger, made by NYA workers. It was donated to the LBJ Library and Museum by the senior statistician in the NYA, who was also the project director of the Inks Lake Dam.
The Inks Lake Dam was built from 1936-38 under the Lower Colorado River Authority, a public agency created in 1934 to build and manage dams along the Colorado River. In 1937, the LCRA would become very important to the campaign promises of aspiring Congressman Lyndon Johnson.
Today the lake created by the dam is the centerpiece of a much-loved state park run by Texas Parks and Wildlife.
1936: This issue of The Aspermont Star, dated Dec. 17, contains an article on the meeting of the NYA Stonewall County advisory board. The front page of the paper contains several more articles about New Deal programs—and several related to the prohibition of alcohol.
More on the town of Aspermont, Texas here.
The Aspermont Star (Aspermont, Tex.), Vol. 39, No. 23, Ed. 1 Thursday, December 17, 1936. Image courtesy of The Portal to Texas History.
The majority of Texas’ roadside parks were created by workers in the Texas National Youth Administration, headed by LBJ from 1935 to 1937. The photo above, from the Texas Dept. of Transportation, is of the very first one they built. You can still find it on Rte 71, between Smithville and La Grange.
- Focal Length
- Canon PowerShot S3 IS
One of the National Youth Administration’s biggest projects in Texas was the restoration of the La Villita historic district in San Antonio, an effort spearheaded by Maury Maverick.
Originally a Coahuiltecan Indian village, the area became home to a Spanish community in the 1700s. Over the 19th century, it grew increasingly diverse, with German, Swiss, and French immigrants, as well as Mexicans and Americans.
Beginning in 1939, the two-year NYA restoration project trained 1,800 young people in arts and crafts, while developing the district into a hub for community events. Today, La Villita is home to art galleries and restaurants, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1935: LBJ sets up his NYA office at the Littlefield Building, on Congress Ave in in downtown Austin.
..”Maverick went straight to the top, calling on both FDR and Eleanor about his protégé. Roosevelt at first protested that he was not going to entrust a major state relief agency to an untested twenty-six-year-old, but Maverick listed Lyndon’s qualifications and insisted that that youth required youth to lead it out of the Depression.”
FDR relented, and LBJ was sworn in July 25, 1935.
—Woods, Randall B. LBJ: Architect of American Ambition. New York: Free Press, 2006, p. 106.
At the urging of his wife Eleanor, President Roosevelt signs the bill creating the National Youth Administration, a New Deal program addressing the unemployment of young people.
More on the NYA and Eleanor Roosevelt: George Washington University’s Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project