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Botanical garden searches for the black women who built it

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A botanical garden in Virginia is trying to identify the black women and men who worked to create the site during the Great Depression.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Monday that Norfolk Botanical Garden is hoping that the public can help identify them.

In 1938, the workforce of mostly black women cut down thick underbrush and trees and contended with snakes and swampland. They worked through a project funded by the Works Progress Administration. The program was created to put people to work during the Great Depression.

Wearing dresses, the women contended with ticks, snakes and cold weather. Many dealt with health issues for years afterward.

They were paid less than white workers in WPA programs. Segregation also laws barred them from visiting the garden they created for more than 20 years.

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