The Library of Congress, National Digital Library Program announces a
new American Memory online collection.

During the Great Depression and World War II, the federal government
employed artists to design posters to publicize cultural programs, to
encourage people to get appropriate medical care, to promote better
housing and to enlist support for the war effort. Of the 35,000
posters created by WPA Federal Art Project artists, approximately
2,000 are still in existence. The newest addition to the American
Memory online collections, "By the People, For the People: Posters
from the WPA, 1936-1943," presents 907 of  these boldly colored
original posters which document a significant period in the history of
American design. This collection can be found at the following url:

These posters were created by one of the first government agencies to
support the arts. They provide information on the issues of interest
to the organizations requesting these posters. The posters cover
activities from seventeen states and the District of Columbia. Users
will find many "See America" posters encouraging people to visit their
national parks and cultural landmarks. They will also find posters
urging the public to be checked for cancer and to obtain proper
treatment, as well as posters for musical events, theatrical programs
and other community activities.

The Library obtained this collection, the largest of WPA posters in
existence, during the 1940s. Though most of the posters were
silk-screened, there are some lithographs and woodcuts. Those
interested in art and design will enjoy the variety of images as well
as the color and the unique design formats. Viewers of this collection
will come to understand why Richard Floethe, the head of the Federal
Art Project's New York City poster division stated, "the government
unwittingly launched a movement to improve the commercial poster and
raise it to a true art form."

Three special presentations supplement the collection. A short
interview with master silkscreener Tony Velonis, taped in 1994,
provides users with the opportunity to hear one of the WPA's poster
artists discuss his personal experiences and his craft. Also included
is a calendar created in 1938 by the New York City Poster Division to
show government officials the skilled work being done by the Federal
Art Project staff. Users can flip the pages of the calendar to view
the artwork month by month. The third special presentation presents
collection highlights selected by Library staff to document the depth
of the collection, the variety of styles and the content of the WPA
posters. Many of the posters shown in the collection highlights have
not been widely published.

Please direct any questions about this collection to
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