In honor of Black History Month, we present this gem that we've never seen before! And the controversial story about the production here. #NewToThePublicRecord #BlackHistoryMonth
by Ennis Carter
Director, Social Impact Studios & Posters for the People
We are excited to start off this 80th Anniversary year of the WPA Poster Division with a collection of new poster images courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection.
The private collection in New Orleans has the largest set of pre-war and wartime posters we’ve seen and adds 49 new items that aren’t documented in any other archive!
This is also an important find because the beautifully design posters are uncharacteristically signed by the artists who created them. Most shops in the poster division did not permit workers to credit their art (you might find some hidden signatures throughout the archive, though!)
Some of these posters raise difficult questions about the types of messages and images designed by this propaganda effort of the Roosevelt administration. While we take very seriously the job of documenting ALL posters created under the WPA, we also have made it a policy not to sell any reproductions of the few posters that depict racist of demeaning content.
More of the posters are just really great examples of the public issues of the era. We hope you enjoy looking through this new addition to the public record!
Join us to learn more about the posters of the WPA at this FREE silkscreen and book talk event in Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
1pm - 4pm
During the depths of the Great Depression, the U.S. government became a vital patron of the arts, employing hundreds of artists to create millions of posters promoting positive social ideals and programs as well as a uniquely American way of life. Over 35,000 posters were made during this time.
Throughout the day, you will have the opportunity to screen-print your own Four Freedoms poster (and other WPA designs) during a hands-on workshop. At 2:30pm, you will hear from the Posters for the People's book author and founder of Social Impact Studios, Ennis Carter, about the impact of WPA and her efforts to continue its legacy. Please see below for directions and registration information.
In celebration of Women's History Month, March's featured poster is by Katherine Milhous. Here is her story.
KATHERINE MILHOUS Born 1894, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; died 1977, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Katherine Milhous created some of the most distinctive posters produced by the WPA. She was a supervisor of the FAP in Philadelphia (her birthplace and lifelong home) from 1935 to 1940. Milhous often incorporated the folk traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch communities in her poster designs. Her deep affection for the locality's history and people is apparent in her depictions of the Amish and Mennonites.
Milhous was educated at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before joining the FAP. An exhibition of her posters in a FAP gallery attracted the attention of a children's book editor at Charles Scribner's Sons, where she as a staff designer 1944 - 1946, and launched her successful career as an award-winning children's book illustrator.
In 1938 her first book as writer and illustrator, Once Upon a Time, was published. It was followed by other titles including Snow Over Bethlehem (1945), With Bells On (1955), and Through These Arches: The Story of Independence Hall (1964). She received the American Library Association's Caldecott Medal, honoring the most distinguished picture book for children for The Egg Tree (1950).
Milhous was a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Her work was exhibited at the 1939 New York World's Fair and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
See Katherine Milhous' work in the archive here.
A building with ties to the Philadelphia WPA poster division at 311 South Broad Street in Philadelphia is set to be demolished in late February 2015. From spotty records, we've been able to identify that this was the building that likely housed the Federal Art Project's Poster Division in Philadelphia in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Legend has it that the first floor was home to a night club and the second floor was the studio and production area for the artists and printers. Led by Director Katherine Milhous, - a prolific poster artist in her own right - this division in our hometown of Philly created some of the most beautiful and powerful posters in the archive.
Here is a site-specific, street art homage to the poster artists who worked in the building in remembrance of their contribution to beautiful public art.
(click on thumbnails to view full images)
Henry Vizcarra Silkscreen Reproductions Now Available through Posters for the People
Thanks to Henry Vizcarra, we now have a limited number of large format reproductions available as hand-made silkscreen posters suitable for framing.
Henry Vizcarra is a long time collector and supporter of the efforts to document and celebrate the posters made during the WPA era. He helped produce the original book on the subject "WPA Posters" by Christopher DeNoon and continues to curate exhibits and share information on the subject.
Through a partnership with Posters for the People, Henry has made a limited number of silkcreen reproductions available for the public! Check them out here.
Did you know that Posters for the People is a self-funded project?
We maintain the largest public record of WPA posters known to exist and continue field research whenever we can to keep it growing. We fund it all through the sale of the book and poster reproductions.
You can support us this season by shopping for beautiful and cool gifts on our new website. The book amasses 500+ of the most meaningful examples of this social legacy and you can get custom prints of over 600 posters from the archive in time for holiday gifts!
With so many social and everyday topics covered, there’s something for every interest!
Posters for the People now has a permanent home! When the exhibit isn't on the road, you can see originals, reproductions and the New Deal film festival here. Books & repros available too. Get more info & hours here.
Gallery Opening Party
Oct 25, 2014 4pm-10pm+
525 S. 4th Street, Studio 589
Philadelphia, PA 19147
During a recent trip to the Big Easy, Ennis Carter and her husband Phil unearthed an astounding collection of WPA posters within the resources of the Historic New Orleans Collection.
By getting a first-hand look at more than 60 posters in pristine condition, they documented 43 posters that haven’t been catalogued by the federal government! We are excited to add these new gems to the ever-growing Living Archive.
We’d like to thank Mary Lou Eichhorn for assisting us at the Collection. She spent the extra effort to help surface these and joined in our delight when we told her the news. What they thought was a “handful” of posters, turned out to be a real treasure of predominantly War & Defense subject pieces – mostly related to the New Orleans area. Thanks, Mary Lou, we couldn’t have done it without you!
We hope to drum up the resources to have these posters scanned so we can share their images with the American public through the Archive. In the meantime, we’ll be inputting the data so their existence will be on record.
Stay tuned! Get on our e-mail list of follow us on Facebook.
About the Repository
The Historic New Orleans Collection is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to the study and preservation of the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South region. Learn more.
Documenting and Presenting the Posters of the WPA
(U.S. Works Progress Administration 1935-1943)