From 1936 to 1943, the Federal Arts Project funded the creation of thousands of posters that promoted aspects of virtually every New Deal program. These posters helped publicize health and safety programs; art exhibitions, theatrical, and musical performances; travel and tourism; education; community activities, and other endeavors and events.
In 1934, New York City had already established the Mayor's Poster Project within the Civil Works Administration to
advertise Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia's projects, and in 1935 this division became the first Federal Arts Project poster
division. Eventually, poster divisions existed in at least eighteen states and in Washington, D. C., and employed hundreds of
Initially, posters were created by hand and individually painted. Later on, artists mostly used the silkscreen process, which made mass production much easier and helped lend the posters their characteristic look.
The colorful and creative posters remain highly collectible, and reproductions are readily available for purchase. Prized for their artistry as well as their "vintage" look, the posters not only serve to illustrate the activities, programs, and values of a particular time in U.S. history, but the messages of many remain timely.
Today, the Library of Congress owns the largest single collection of original WPA posters, which have been digitized and are available for browsing via the online exhibit "By the People, For the People" at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/wpaposters/wpahome.html
Over thirty color reproductions of these posters, representing a variety of subjects, will be on display throughout the first floor in the East Tower of Wells Library from mid-September to October 31st.
Posters for the People
WPA Posters - A Flickr set