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?
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- Also with Elyse Luray Houdini Poster Could these be original theatre posters of the greatest magician on earth?
- Related Investigation Lee Family Doll Did this doll belong to a former slave of General Robert E. Lee?
- 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 this episode George Washington Miniature Did the artist paint this portrait from life, and what is its surprising connection to the abolitionist White Matlack?
- Also with Elyse Luray Front Street Blockhouse Did this unassuming house protect an American colony from attack almost 300 years ago?
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