The New Deal, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s political experiment to pull the United States out of the Great Depression, created programs for relief for the unemployed and economic recovery and reform. Evidence of some of these programs can still be found across Philadelphia.
Since it’s October, we are hosting programs related to some of these historic New Deal sites for Archives Month Philly (AMP), a city-wide celebration of events sponsored by local archival institutions.
New Deal agencies employed 20 million workers, including about ten thousand people working for the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) Federal Art Project. The Philadelphia Fine Print Workshop was created in April 1937 and was located at 311 South Broad Street. The Poster Workshop was located on a different floor of the same building. Ninety percent of the employees in the workshops were on needs-based relief. Between 1937 and 1943, the artists in the workshops produced hundreds of prints and posters. When the WPA ended, the Print and Picture Collection in Parkway Central Library received a collection of over 1300 prints, drawings, and posters from the print and poster workshops. On Wednesday, October 13, Parkway Central Library will host a Make Your Own WPA Poster event where a teaching artist from Posters for the People will guide visitors in making their own poster based on a poster in the Print and Picture Collection. We’ll host the same event at Donatucci Library on Thursday, October 14.
WPA printmaker Dox Thrash owned a home at 2340 West Columbia Avenue (now Cecil B. Moore Avenue) in Philadelphia’s Sharswood neighborhood. The Dox Thrash House is just doors away from Cecil B. Moore Library, and the team behind the project to save his historic home are collaborating with the library. Learn more about the history and future of the Dox Thrash House and join them for a fun printmaking activity on Thursday, October 21. Cecil B. Moore Library will also host Black Ancestral Healing and Historic Remedies with Nyambi Naturals on Thursday, October 7.
All Archives Month Philly long, stop by the third floor of Parkway Central Library to see the Free Library’s newest exhibition For the Greatest Number: The New Deal Revisited, on view Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.