WPA Mural Studies
History Detectives searches for connections between a collection of unusual paintings and the largest job creation program in America's history.
FDR’s New Deal work programs will put more than 8 million back to work. And not everyone is laying roads and mixing cement – the program also employs over 40,000 in various arts projects. This unprecedented harnessing of artistic talent will create thousands of paintings, sculptures and murals for public buildings across the country. But today, nearly a third of this artwork is missing. What happened to these important pieces of our nation’s history?
Evelyn Cook of Molalla, Oregon, has inherited some paintings that may be part of this lost work. Created by her aunt, Thelma Johnson Streat, she believes they were mural studies commissioned by the WPA in the 1930’s or 1940’s. The color illustrations depict contributions of African Americans in the fields of medicine, transportation and industry.
Did any of these studies become murals and do any of Streat's murals still exist?
- Related Investigation Ventriloquist Dummy How did an African-American ventriloquist act become so successful in a time of racial unrest?
- Related Investigation Bonus Army Stamp Is this stamp connected to a moment when the U.S. Army fought fellow soldiers in the nation’s capital?
- Also in Depression and WWII: 1929-1945 Drone Propellor Could this propellor have powered a top secret weapon that transformed modern warfare?
- Also with Elyse Luray Lafayette China Did the Marquis de Lafayette give this china set to the popular wife of the Patriot Mayor?
- Also in Depression and WWII: 1929-1945 Japanese House How did a Japanese house come to be at the San Francisco World's Fair just months before WWII began?
- Also in Depression and WWII: 1929-1945 China Marine Jacket Can the symbols on this jacket identify a marine who may have witnessed paradise tumbling into disaster?
This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion; a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don’t conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.