WPA arts project posters now online


WASHINGTON – Another striking illustration of the American past is now available online.

Approximately 2,000 posters were created by artists working for the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration. The Library of Congress has the largest collection of these posters, 907 different works by different artists.

Highlights from this assemblage of artworks, diverse in design as well as subject matter, has been added to the Library of Congress’ American Memory Web site.

“By the People, for the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943” showcases the silkscreen, lithograph, and woodcut posters designed to publicize health and safety programs; cultural programs including art exhibitions and theatrical and musical performances; travel and tourism; educational programs; and community activities in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

The New Deal WPA arts project was one of the first federal government programs to support the arts. These posters from that program were added to the library’s holdings in the 1940s.

Posters included in the Web site exhibition were selected by library staff who have worked with the posters. The posters were selected with an eye toward their design, representation of a variety of U.S. states and artists.

But the site also features many of those posters that have not been widely published. The presentation is divided into seven subjects.

The site also features an interview with WPA silkscreen artist Tony Velonis. This brief conversation with Velonis discussing his WPA experiences took place in 1994, when the Library hosted the symposium on the WPA called “Amassing ‘American Stuff’: The New Deal Arts Collections of the Library of Congress.” The interview can be seen and heard.

It also includes the Federal Art Project calendar, created by the New York City Poster Division in 1938 to show government officials the skilled artistic work the Federal Art Project was doing for the WPA. The library’s copy of the calendar was a gift in 1975.

“By the People, for the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943” has been added to the more than 80 collections already available from American Memory, which is a project of the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress.

By the end of 2000, the conclusion of the library’s 200th year, the program will bring more than 5 million items of American history to citizens everywhere through the Internet.


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!