The American Guide was never completed. It was to have been a vast undertaking; local material would be collected and consolidated into copy, organized by state, and this state material, in highly condensed form, would comprise five regional volumes. Ultimately, state guides, intended originally as side publications (if and when there was the desire), became the FWP's most exhaustive accomplishment (Katherine Davidson 3).

The 50 state guides (and various local publications) are, as a body of work, inconsistent. The question of who the project would employ was one of various administrative and philosophical hurdles. How would a writer be defined? Those states that had major urban centers, such as New York, Illinois, and California, had a greater pool of experienced and published writers from which to draw (Mangione 100). In other places, the criteria had to be flexible; "writers" were actually people who simply had typing skills, or in the somewhat cynical terms of Harold Rosenberg, a national office employee, "anyone who could write English" (Bold 20).



Juliet Gorman, May 2001