September 19, 2000 Posters from the WPA Now Available Online

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

Approximately 2,000 posters were created by artists working for the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration. The Library of Congress's collection of 907 is the largest. This assemblage of striking artworks, diverse in their design as well as subject matter, is now online at the American Memory Web site.

"By the People, for the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943" showcases these silkscreen, lithograph and woodcut posters designed to publicize health and safety programs; cultural programs including art exhibitions and theatrical and musical performances; travel and tourism; educational programs; and community activities in 17 states and the District of Columbia. The posters were made possible by one of the first federal government programs to support the arts and were added to the Library's holdings in the 1940s.

The site also offers three "Special Presentations":

  • Collection Highlights. These posters were selected by Library staff who have worked closely with the WPA posters. The posters were selected with an eye toward their design, representation of a variety of U.S. states and artists and as a way of featuring those posters that have not been widely published. The presentation is divided into seven subjects.
  • Interview with WPA Silkscreen Artist Tony Velonis. This brief conversation with Mr. Velonis, who discusses his WPA experiences, took place in 1994, when the Library hosted the symposium on the WPA called "Amassing 'American Stuff': The New Deal Arts Collections of the Library of Congress." The interview can be seen and heard.
  • Federal Art Project Calendar. This calendar was created by the New York City Poster Division in 1938 to show government officials the skilled artistic work the Federal Art Project was doing for the WPA. The Library's copy of the calendar was a gift in 1975.

"By the People, for the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943" has been added to the more than 80 collections already freely available from American Memory, which is a project of the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress. By the end of 2000, the conclusion of the Library's 200th year, the program will bring more than 5 million items of American history to citizens everywhere through the Internet.

The latest Web site from the Library is aimed at kids and families. The colorful and interactive "America's Library" ( invites users to "Log On ... Play Around ... Learn Something."


PR 00-140
ISSN 0731-3527