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Africa and the African Diaspora

Schomburg Treasures: WPA Photographs


Androcles & the Lion
Federal Theatre Project still from Androcles & the Lion

Part of FDR's New Deal, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created in 1935 to provide paying jobs for the unemployed at every skill level. Workers built all manner of public projects, from bridges, dams, and roads to  libraries and courthouses, swimming pools and gyms, parks and gardens. 

Federal Project Number One was a large part of the WPA, and included five parts: The Federal Art, Music, Theatre, and Writers' Projects, and the Historical Records Survey. The various divisions employed tens of thousands of people who created works of art, put on plays, taught classes, established musical groups, created guidebooks, and worked to preserve the historical record of the United States. 

Now for the first time, the Schomburg's collection of WPA Photographs is online. This includes stills from  Federal Theatre Project productions (such as Macbeth, The Swing Mikado, and Haiti), artists and their work under the auspices of the Federal Art Project, and children's and adults' music classes under the Federal Music Project, among others.




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