Thursday, September 11, 2014

WPA Posters on Books and Libraries

Who doesn't like a cool poster? During the Great Depression, artists hired by the government produced many great posters, some promoting books and libraries.  
Poster for WPA Statewide Library Project in Chicago, Illinois.
Image via

During the Great Depression (1929-1939) in the United States, millions of people across the country found themselves unemployed, including thousands of artists. These artists were put to work through the Federal Art Project. The Federal Art Project was part of the Work Projects Administration (WPA), an ambitious government effort initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to employ the masses of people who were jobless as a result of the Great Depression.
Poster for bookmobile service of the Chicago Public Library.
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Through the Federal Art Project, more than 5,000 artists were employed. Some of these artists were given the task of creating posters. According to the Library of Congress website, "The posters were designed to publicize exhibits, community activities, theatrical productions, and health and education programs in seventeen states and the District of Columbia, with the strongest representation from California, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania."
Poster publicizing Book Week in North Carolina.
Image via Marchivist on

Quite a few of these posters publicized books, libraries, and a love of reading. These posters and others can be found in the Library of Congress collection, which consists of more than 900 of the 2,000 WPA posters that are known to exist.

All of the posters in the Library of Congress' Works Projects Administration (WPA) Poster Collection were produced between the years of 1936 and 1943. The posters are striking in color and clever in design, and their messages are both simple and direct. Many of the WPA posters can easily be considered works of art.
Poster promoting book clubs in Iowa.
Image via 

Want to see more WPA posters promoting books and libraries (and other topics)? You can do so online by going to the Library of Congress website for the Works Projects Administration Poster Collection at THIS LINK. At the link, you can also obtain copies of WPA posters that catch your eye. Enjoy, and be inspired!

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