Works Progress Administration

1935 – 1943, USA
This group of works on paper was selected by Leon Amyx in 1939-40 from the artworks commissioned by the Works Progress Administration’s program to employ artists during the difficult years of the Depression. They reflect the wide range of styles of artists working the San Francisco Bay Area at that time. Most predominate was the focus on regional scenes both urban and rural.
  • Painting, Photography

The Works Progress Administration (WPA; renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration) was an American New Deal agency, employing millions of job-seekers (mostly men who were not formally educated) to carry out public works projects,[1] including the construction of public buildings and roads. It was established on May 6, 1935, by presidential order, as a key part of the Second New Deal. The WPA's initial appropriation in 1935 was for $4.9 billion (about 6.7 percent of the 1935 GDP).[2] Headed by Harry Hopkins, the WPA provided paid jobs to the unemployed during the Great Depression in the United States, while building up the public infrastructure of the US, such as parks, schools and roads. Most of the jobs were in construction, building more than 620,000 miles (1,000,000 km) of streets and over 10,000 bridges, in addition to many airports and much housing. The largest single project of the WPA was the Tennessee Valley Authority. At its peak in 1938, it provided paid jobs for three million unemployed men and women, as well as youth in a separate division, the National Youth Administration. Between 1935 and 1943, the WPA employed 8.5 million people.[3] Hourly wages were typically kept well below industry standards.[4]: 196  Full employment, which was reached in 1942 and emerged as a long-term national goal around 1944, was not the goal of the WPA; rather, it tried to provide one paid job for all families in which the breadwinner suffered long-term unemployment. 2021. Works Progress Administration - Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <>

Hartnell College © 2021. All Rights Reserved