907 free downloadable WPA posters from 1936 – 1943

wpa-postersReader Onawa read our story on the free downloadable NASA Jet Propulsion Lab posters and commented with this great tip: ‘The Library of Congress has a ton of WPA posters available for free download — if you’re willing to slog through their website. I found one I had been coveting and had it printed through a local photo lab once I resized it, and it looks great.” Well guess what? I found the magic link to avoid slogging, and here you go: Access to the complete library of 907 Works Progress Administration (WPA) posters produced from 1936 to 1943. Hours of free fun even just to look at!

WPA-poster-fruit-store

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WPA Poster Collection, LC-USZC4-5064

Note, here are the Rights & Restrictions, and the way I read them, these are free to print; but read ’em yourself to make sure you agree.

About the collection:

The Work Projects Administration (WPA) Poster Collection consists of 907 posters produced from 1936 to 1943 by various branches of the WPA. Of the 2,000 WPA posters known to exist, the Library of Congress’s collection of more than 900 is the largest. The posters were designed to publicize exhibits, community activities, theatrical productions, and health and educational programs in seventeen states and the District of Columbia, with the strongest representation from California, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The results of one of the first U.S. Government programs to support the arts, the posters were added to the Library’s holdings in the 1940s.

wpa-let-them-grow-poster

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WPA Poster Collection, LC-USZC2-909

This background on the collection is interesting to read, too!

Thanks, Onawa, for this great tip!

Poster-mania link love:

Be-Safe-graphic2.3

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Comments

  1. Mary Elizabeth says

    Wonderful! I love the vibrant colors and the simplicity of some of them.

    And why shouldn’t we be able to download and print them? Our taxes paid for them. Or I should say, our parents’, grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ taxes paid for them. 🙂

  2. Carolyn says

    I would venture to say they are free so long as its for “personal use” but I’d invest a little time to read the fine print and maybe consult a lawyer if you were going to use them for your own profit. The wording is pretty vague.
    Safety, health, and child care are very interesting that I could see making small frames prints for kitchen, bath, and workshop/work. This is a great source for people interested or needing inspiration in graphics, art, and US history, especially since May 8 is VE Day and May 30 is Memorial Day.
    After viewing the collection, I’m no longer wishing my tiny collection wasn’t so yellowed or “off”-color – that’s the original beige-y shade of the papers used!

  3. Dan says

    Marvelous! It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite, but “Funny Side Up” amuses the heck out of me. What a terrific combo of decoration and history.

    • Carolyn says

      Boy, we’ve been going back and forth on just how many food groups there are. I’ve got cookbooks back to the 1920’s and it seems the number of groups expands and contracts every few decades.
      So…Linda…how did you come up with this one and how do we find others?

  4. Megan says

    Oh these are too much! “YOUR FAMILY NEEDS PROTECTION AGAINST SYPHILIS” would look so charming in our guest bath 🙂

    I am bookmarking this, I plan on hanging a couple up. By the way, this story lead me to the Charley Harper website and I ended up ordering the most delightful Edie Harper poster for my son’s 2nd birthday in a couple weeks: http://www.charleyharper.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/eed5f4afc7f26eed9042f67339cb75b1/p/i/pigs-are-big.jpg

    Thanks for the resources!

  5. Carolyn says

    You added more links after I viewed early this a.m. so when I scrolled to see what others wrote I saw “Harley Choppers”!!!
    I’ll be checking out the other links and look forward to seeing what else pops up over the weekend.

  6. says

    These are amazing, though I wish there was a bit more explanation about them. Apparently some things that were obviously important PSAs at one time are completely mysterious and unimaginable now. “Sanitary Unit”? With a picture of an outhouse? Were they trying to convince people to move to indoor toilets ( in which case that outhouse looks too clean and inviting—moreso than most real ones I’ve encountered at public campgrounds, anyway!), or were there actually people who didn’t even bother with an outhouse?! And the not mixing gasoline and whiskey—were people actually drinking that( my grandpa used to say they had to lock up the Watkins Horse Liniment to stop the hired farmhands from drinking it), or am I just being too literal and they meant ” Don’t Drink and Drive “?

  7. Onawa Rock says

    Another fun resource is the NY Public Library-TONS of downloadable files. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/collections/works-progress-administration-wpa-art#/?tab=about
    Also looks like FSA photos, great maps (my town with both the name the founder wanted and the name it ended up with from the 18th century) and cool space drawings from the 19thhttp://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dd-e81f-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
    Apparently, it’s my time to shine 🙂

  8. says

    This is a great find – thanks for posting it! I have a rotating poster set of vintage travel posters that I grab each year from a Cavallini & Co. calendar, but these WPA ones will make for a nice switchup. I liked the ones imploring everyone to have a new “sanitary privy” (outhouse) with concrete foundation for public health.

  9. Elaine Crabtree says

    Oooo, thanks for this! I followed the link to the Charlie Harper posters and snapped one up, along with some WW2 painting reproductions on clearance. Can’t wait ’til they get here!

  10. Pat says

    Looking at the GPO site for the Charley Harper posters, they now have a “reviews and more about this product” at the bottom of each page, and it says: “Charley Harper poster collection review by Pam Kueber can be found here”…(with link to you). Fun!

  11. BILLIE JEAN PATTON says

    I have some vintage metal kitchen cabinets and one of the doors fell off because the L bracket and pin broke. Does anyone know where I can get replacement parts? Call me, text me, or email me please. 231-629-7322 billiejeanpatton@gmail.com

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