Monday, August 25, 2008

Signs of the (1930s/40s) times

In browsing the Library of Congress site, I found these WPA (Work Projects Administration) 1930s/40s posters. Those two, above, are my favorites. The first one scares the bejeezus out of me, and the second one makes me admire the artist for making the best of a dorky message.

Three more...

And this, where the high-minded and impeccably literate admonishment somehow fails to make me run to my local Health Bureau for baby-rearing advice...


  1. I've seen Miss Muffet before -- really love that one.

    The babies... not so much.

  2. I've seen Miss Muffet before, too. I think it was the Horn Book?

    I removed the links I had with each poster, because they don't work. They were temporary, I guess, tied to my initial search. But if anyone wants to look at more of these, you can click on the "posters" link above, and then start a new search under WPA. Or weirdness. I also found descriptions (not pictures) of artwork presented to Hitler, including a swastika-carrying Easter bunny. (!)

    The LOC is like the world's greatest literary garage sale.

  3. Okay, now I've added the main link to the WPA collection. It has tons of images, tidily ordered into categories and with background info and all. Just what you'd expect from the LOC.

  4. "So Ignorantly Nurtured" sounds like the title of a book by Maugahm, or maybe Lawrence...

    I love so much of what was done under the WPA. One of the things they did was send young writers into the field to collect personal narratives of average working people, oral histories of jobs and regional dialect. Every once in a while I spot on at a yard or libary sale and snag it for the one day I might have use for those voices. One great book called "First-Person America" by Ann Banks is a great little modern collection that samples from the WPA archives.

    Most interesting tidbit from the Banks book: Ralph Ellison's interview with a Pullman Porter has the cadence and language that clearly helped inspire his book "The Invisible Man."

    Anyway, thanks for sharing.

  5. Oh, the baby one IS scary. But I want to be in the story hour club.

    The March Read the Books... one was hanging somewhere I used to go a lot. The Philly public library, maybe. Oh, this is killing me.

  6. Someone should adapt the monster baby poster to use in sex ed classes. It's just the sort of thing to encourage someone to act responsibly.

  7. Adrienne, you're making me giggle. I'll bet Monster Baby could've taken care of your monstrous Curious George, too.

    David: I didn't know any of that. Cool. I'll have to check out the Banks book. And The Invisible Man all over again.

    Jacqui, it's going to bug you until you remember, isn't it? Maybe you could call the Philly library...

  8. I've *never* seen the Little Miss Muffet one before, and I lurv it.


R-E-S-P-E-C-T (or you will be deleted)

You can receive followup comments to this conversation by checking the "notify me" box below the comment window.