A NEW DEAL FOR THE ARTS A NEW DEAL FOR THE ARTS A NEW DEAL FOR THE ARTS
Introduction
About this Exhibit
Rediscovering America
Celebrating The People
Work Pays America
Activist Arts
Useful Arts

Useful Arts
Part 3

PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3
Wall Hanging from The Milwaukee Handcraft Project

Wall Hanging by WPA Handcraft Project, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
By an unknown artist, Milwaukee Handcraft Project, WPA, ca. 1935-42
Block-printed cloth

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, National Archives and Records Administration
(MO 70-117B)

The Milwaukee Handcraft Project began in 1935 as an experiment aimed at employing workers who were considered unemployable because of age or disability. The project soon became a thriving business, employing up to 900 workers who made rugs, draperies, furniture, wall hangings, and toys that were purchased by public institutions such as hospitals and schools. The wall hanging displayed here was given to Eleanor Roosevelt by the project.
Piecing Quilts, Nashville, Tennessee

"Mrs. Lizzie Chambers and Mrs. Mary Collier piecing quilts while Mrs. Octa Self, forelady of the quilting project directs the pattern they are to follow." WPA, Nashville, Tennessee, March 9, 1936
By an unknown photographer

National Archives, Records of the Work Projects Administration
(69-MP-3-21-550)

Poster: Federal Art Project, 1939

Federal Art Project 1939
By Jerome Roth, New York Federal Art Project, WPA, 1938
Silkscreen on coated paper

National Archives, Records of the Work Projects Administration

"June", page from Federal Art Project Calendar

"June" (page from "Federal Art Project 1939")
By Alexander Dux, Poster Division, New York City Federal Art Project, WPA, 1938
Silkscreen

National Archives, Records of the Work Projects Administration

In 1938 Audrey McMahon, head of the WPA's New York City Federal Art Project, suggested that its Poster Division design and print a calendar for distribution to Members of Congress and administration officials, hoping to impress them with the quality of project work. The strategy backfired when one Congressman took to the floor of the House brandishing a copy of the calendar as he gave a speech attacking its production as a waste of taxpayers' money.
Handbill from "Spirochete"

Handbills for Chicago, Illinois, production of Spirochete, Illinois Federal Theatre Project, WPA, 1938

National Archives, Records of the Work Projects Administration
(Federal Theater Records, Vassar Collection of Programs and Promotional Materials, Box 156)

A "Living Newspaper," Spirochete describes the history of humanity's struggle against venereal disease. Public health experts such as the Surgeon General assisted with the script's development and endorsed its proposed solution--nationwide premarital screening. The advertisement shown here emphasizes the play's position that prudery and ignorance only aided the spread of this scourge.

National Archives and Records Administration

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