Vintaga Posters - Historic Artwork & Vintage Poster Prints : Photo Keywords : united states : Millions of Americans were out of work. The stock market had crashed, and the Great Depression had begun. In cities, towns, and rural areas, Americans were living through some of the most trying times in our nation's history. Food was scarce, jobs had vanished, and many felt hopeless.
In 1935, as part of the "Second New Deal", President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an Executive Order that would create millions of new jobs throughout the nation. When Congress granted funding by passing the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, the Works Progress Administration was born.
The WPA was designed to put Americans back to work. In 1936, just a year after its founding, the WPA employed 3.3 million Americans. By the time the program ended in 1943, more than 8.5 million Americans had worked on WPA projects. During the Great Depression, the WPA became the largest employer in the United States.
Much of the WPA's work focused on infrastructure and community rehabilitation. Workers constructed roads, replanted forests, cleared slums, and built structures. However, the WPA also placed a major focus on the arts. Out-of-work artists, writers, and actors found an opportunity to share their work with the American public.
The WPA's "Federal Project Number One" sought to connect Americans with the arts. The Federal Writers Project prepared guidebooks and recorded oral histories. The Federal Theatre Project brought live stage productions to communities throughout the United States. The Federal Music Project organized classes and concerts to expose citizens to musical instruments and entertain them with orchestra performances. The Historical Records Survey collected and preserved historical records from every corner of America. The Federal Arts Project created murals, paintings, and posters that connected Americans with the arts.
Many WPA projects live on today. Bridges, buildings, roads--these are part of the lasting legacy of the WPA. But the most compelling of the WPA's projects are its posters. Nothing gives a clearer glimpse into depression-era life than the posters of the WPA. Each poster provides a window into American culture, revealing American attitudes and showing how everyday Americans lived their lives.
Take a close look at the WPA posters. Notice their bold colors, their striking text, and their simple imagery. These posters show what it meant to live during the Great Depression. And, these posters show what it means to be an American today--they're part of our collective history, our collective culture, and our collective consiousness.
Some of the posters promote healthy living. Some focus on travel and tourism. Some encourage viewers to attend a play, an exhibition, or a community event. But all provide a glimpse into American life during a critical period in our nation's development. Though the plays, concerts, and events described by the WPA posters are gone, the posters live on.