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?
- Also in Depression and WWII: 1929-1945 Continental Club Card What secrets can this business card reveal about glamour and vice in 1930s Los Angeles?
- Also in Depression and WWII: 1929-1945 Hindenburg Artifact Was this device snatched from the burning wreckage of the ill-fated zeppelin?
- Also with Elyse Luray Space Boot What does this odd-looking boot have to do with America's first steps in space?
- Also in Depression and WWII: 1929-1945 Sideshow Babies Was the owner of this cup once a four-pound sideshow exhibit?
- Also with Elyse Luray Revolutionary War Cannon Is this the cannon that ignited the first battle of the Revolutionary War?
- Also with Elyse Luray Birth Control Box Could this unusual wooden box be an early contraceptive device?
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.