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Suppressed Report on WPA Project No. 890

Suppressed Report on WPA Project No. 890

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Suppressed Report on WPA Project No. 890

by McDonald, John

  • Used
  • very good
  • Hardcover
Very Good
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Moab, Utah, United States
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About This Item

Phoenix, AZ: Published By Author. Very Good. 1939. Hardcover. Oblong folio 15.5 x 11.5" 38 pp (unpaginated) on thick black paper stock. 11 mounted typescript explanatory leaves, all stamped with Mining Engineer's embossed stamp, 38 silver gelatin photographs, nearly all sized 2.75 x 4.5" Other is panoramic composite photo sized 2.75 x 9" All with typescript numbering keyed to explanatory mounted text. Contemporary black pebbled board post-binder, embossed front cover, embossed lettering, punch-sewn at gutter margin with black silk braid. Minor wear. Overall in very good condition. "The Reader's attention is particularly called to certain irregularities in the leasing of state lands..." So states engineer John R. McDonald in this shocking report of WPA Project No. 890: over 40 mines operating illegally, many on Navajoland, from 1937-38. According to his introductory letter, dated January 1939, McDonald had been tasked by then newly-founded New Deal agency, Works Progress Administration (WPA) , naming "Wm. Alberts" & "J. P. Dunaway" as the project supervisors. He was to cover over 14,600 square miles of Arizona territory, particularly in Gila & Apache Counties. He was "furnished no assistant for the first three months... [nor] tools or equipment from the Land Department..." After 8 months, McDonald bought his own camera to document his investigations, starting in March 1938 until that September, when the work was discontinued "after certain irregularities had came up [sic] in regard to the leasing of certain mining favored parties." What proceeds are McDonald's photographs & descriptions of dozens of mines throughout northeastern Arizona, on state lands and some school lands. Yet not a single one had a valid lease. "These lands cover one of the largest deposits of low grade Manganese in North America," writes McDonald, "and have a potential mineral value amounting to millions of dollars." He further reports that high grade bentonite clay, approximately sixty tons per day, was being shipped to companies in California from these unleased lands. Crucially, he also writes, "My reports and maps, pictures, etc. In this matter can be found in the Attorney General's office unless they have been destroyed." McDonald's report was indeed likely suppressed: there is no mention of Project No. 890 in any of the Living New Deal records, other WPA project registrations, or government reports published from 1937-1940. Furthermore, there remain few published references to his supervisors Alberts & Dunaway. Finally, it's worth noting that although McDonald never says it outright, many of these claims were in counties & lands that, by the late 1930s, had recently become part of the Navajo Nation. As unique as it is damning, this last evidence of Project No. 890 documents a lost piece of Arizona history.  ; B&W Photographs; 15.5 x 11.5"; 38 pp .


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Back of Beyond Books US (US)
Bookseller's Inventory #
Suppressed Report on WPA Project No. 890
McDonald, John
Book Condition
Used - Very Good
Published By Author
Place of Publication
Phoenix, AZ
Date Published
Arizona, Mining, WPA, Suppressed Documents, Navajo

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About the Seller

Back of Beyond Books

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 3 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Biblio member since 2022
Moab, Utah

About Back of Beyond Books

Located in the heart of the desert southwest Back of Beyond Books is an indie bookstore in Moab, Utah. The name of the store was drawn from one of Edward Abbey's most well-known fiction titles, The Monkey Wrench Gang. We specialize in natural history, environmental literature, southwestern guidebooks & maps, Native American books, and Western history. But we also carry a wild assortment of fiction, science, philosophy, current affairs, rare books, and generally other cool stuff.


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer. Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects, "new"...
Very generally, "leaves" refers to the pages of a book, as in the common phrase, "loose-leaf pages." A leaf is a single sheet...
Pebbled cloth or leather describes the covering of a hardcover book with a decorative texture of repeated small raised bumps,...
The inside margin of a book, connecting the pages to the joints near the binding.
A folio usually indicates a large book size of 15" in height or larger when used in the context of a book description. Further,...