Keep Mum: WPA Posters Do the Talking

Artists working for the Federal Art Project (FAP), a part of the Work Projects Administration (WPA), created thousands of posters between 1936 and 1943. The posters took on all manner of topics: public health and safety, cultural events and exhibitions, education, tourism, and wartime warnings, to name a few. Only a small percentage of those posters survive, and today they continue to deliver their messages with strong graphics and few words.

With that in mind, it seems only fair that I let the posters do the rest of the talking, while I keep mum!

Keep mum - the world has ears. Poster (silkscreen) by Edward T. Grigware, between 1941 and 1943. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3f05554

Keep mum – the world has ears. Poster (silkscreen) by Edward T. Grigware, between 1941 and 1943. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3f05554

Grow it yourself. Plan a farm garden now. Poster (silkscreen) by Herbert Bayer, between 1941 and 1943. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3f05737

Grow it yourself. Plan a farm garden now. Poster (silkscreen) by Herbert Bayer, between 1941 and 1943. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3f05737

John is not really dull - he may only need his eyes examined. Poster (silkscreen), 1936 or 1937. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3f05332

John is not really dull – he may only need his eyes examined. Poster (silkscreen), 1936 or 1937. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3f05332

Indian court, Federal Building, Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco. Poster (silkscreen) by Louis B. Siegriest, 1939. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3f05733

Indian court, Federal Building, Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco. Poster (silkscreen) by Louis B. Siegriest, 1939. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3f05733

Get a-head! Adult education classes : For adults at no charge. Poster (silkscreen), between 1936 and 1941. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3f05400

Get a-head! Adult education classes : For adults at no charge. Poster (silkscreen), between 1936 and 1941. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3f05400

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5 Comments

  1. Bert Johnson
    June 25, 2015 at 10:35 am

    I teach screen printing and would love to get more information about the WPA poster production. Where, who, how, techniques used to create artwork, etc. Can you steer me to information regarding the process of producing the posters. I would like to include some of this for historical background for the class.

    Thanks,

    Bert
    P.S. I think these posters are a real national treasure.

  2. Kristi Finefield
    June 25, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Thanks for your comment and your inquiry through our Ask A Librarian page, Mr. Johnson! We are going to answer your specific questions through Ask A Librarian, so you will receive a separate email.

    For anyone interested in more background about the WPA posters and their creation, please read the WPA Posters Background and Scope web page as well as consult our WPA Posters Selected Bibliography.

  3. Donna Northouse
    June 25, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Do you ever plan to reprint the posters and sell them to the public? If so, I’d like to buy a copy of the “Grow Your Own Garden” poster for my daughter-in-law, who is doing just that in 2015! Thanks for putting these up. They are gems.

  4. John Aydelotte
    June 26, 2015 at 9:58 am

    I was bvorn in the middle of the Great Depression, what I remember is more what my family tells me, but I do remember ssome of these posters that remained as I grew up. One I recall dealt with spitting and the dangers to public health it carried.

  5. zal
    June 27, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Absolute treasures!

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