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SharePrint Media File

Type: Video

Series Title West Virginia: A Film History

Filmmaker Mark Samels

Company West Virginia Humanities Council

Format DVD


President Franklin D. Roosevelt put his wife’s idea into action.

The federal government bought a farm twenty miles from Scotts Run, built new houses and began selecting families for relocation to the new community of Arthurdale.

Applicants were asked if they got along with their neighbors, if they had ever used farm tools, and if they could tell a rooster from a hen.

Blacks and foreign-born whites were excluded. Colored people do not make much of an effort on their own, said one official, and foreigners are even worse.

Families from Scotts Run began moving to Arthurdale in the summer of 1934. A school and cooperative store opened as did factories where workers made vacuum cleaners and furniture.

Reporters from across the country arrived to see Eleanor’s experiment. It got so a man couldn’t sit down to his sow belly and turnip greens, complained one resident, without some stranger peeking in the window to ask fool questions.

Arthurdale was the first of nearly two hundred New Deal re-settlement projects, but its planned economy fizzled. Factory goods weren’t profitable enough, food production less than what was needed. Government support of Arthurdale dwindled, yet Eleanor Roosevelt returned every year and continued to declare the project a complete success.

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