The WPA was an acronym for the Works Progress Administration. It was a product of FDR's New Deal. The organization offered employment to the unemployed, who were prominently men with few specialized skills. They built and repaired roads, as well as public buildings. Members of the WPA also constructed bridges, such as those along Connecticut's Merritt Parkway.
The WPA also brought electrical lines to those in rural communities. Some of these residents had electricity in their homes for the first time because of this WPA project. The WPA also engaged in dozens of other projects. As wartime came, some WPA projects shifted to military ones.
The WPA is referred to twice in To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout notes that Mr. Cunningham could take a job with the WPA to help his family financially, but in doing so would be unable to take care of his land. Later, Scout describes Mr. Ewell as being "the only man [she] ever heard of who was fired from the WPA for laziness" (Chapter 27).