Work Projects Administration Posters, 1936 – 1943

In 1935 President Roosevelt signed into law the Works Progress Administration (changed to Works Projects Administration in 1939) which spent billions to create jobs during the height of the  Great Depression.  Most of the money was spent on construction projects (many communities got a new library or post office or bridge) but a small part of it was spent on the arts.  Artists and writers and musicians were put to work on projects that were to benefit the population at large.

One way artists were employed was in the creation of posters.  From 1936 through the end of the program in 1943, over 2000 posters were created.  They advertised theatrical productions, encouraged the use of public libraries, educated about the evils of syphilis, promoted our Nation Park system and promoted tourism.

The United States Library of Congress has a collection of 906 of these posters, and all of them are viewable online as part of the library’s Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.  Even better, there is no known restriction on their use as they were commissioned by the US government as part of the New Deal.

Also check out the other resources in the Prints and Photographs Catalog.  Many are pre-1923, and thus are in the public domain.  Just be sure to check the rights and restrictions for each division.  That information is easily found in the left sidebar.

Some of my favorites from the WPA collection:

All items courtesy Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WPA Poster Collection


Filed under Curiosities, Vintage Travel, Winter Sports

8 responses to “Work Projects Administration Posters, 1936 – 1943

  1. Oh wow! I love the New York Municipal Airports poster. Thanks for sharing these gorgeous images. I shall go and investigate the links. 🙂


  2. Teresa

    Ooooooh! Thanks so much for sharing this Lizzie! I forsee myself losing many hours looking through those posters.

    Love the pet show one!


  3. What a feast for the eyes! Love this artwork and I so appreciate your sharing some of your favorites!


  4. I’ve always loved the simple graphic art posters of this time period! Thank you for sharing and for including the links!


  5. Alas…I hoped I would remember some of the posters….since I am vintage. I did remember the farm poster…maybe it’s ’cause I grew up in Wisconsin’s farmland country. However, I did appreciate looking through them.


  6. These are all fantastic – the Lakeview Terrace poster is catching my eye because we travel to Cleveland frequently. I am noting the address and seeing if the building is still there and if so, what it’s like now!


  7. These are fab. We could reuse the first one today: Don’t Kill Our Wild Life.


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