Federal Art Project, Photographic Division collection, circa 1920-1965, bulk 1935-1942

Federal Art Project. Photographic Division, est. 1935 - 1943
Federal government
Washington, D.C.

Collection size: 12.4 linear feet

Format: Microfilm labels: WPA Photograph Collection.

Collection Summary: The Federal Art Project, Photographic Division collection dates from circa 1920-1965, with the bulk of the records spanning the active years of the Federal Art Project (FAP), 1935-1942. The collection comprises 12.4 linear feet of mostly photographic prints and negatives. Artist files comprise approximately three-quarters of the collection and contain photographs of artwork by artists involved in the FAP in addition to some photographs of the artists themselves.

Biographical/Historical Note: The Federal Art Project, as well as the Federal Music Project, Federal Theater Project and Federal Writers' Project were all projects of the Work Progress Administration's (WPA) Federal Project No. 1. The WPA was established in May 1935 specifically as a work relief program for the millions of individuals left unemployed during the Depression. Its name changed to the Work Projects Administration in 1939 when it fell under the administrative hand of the newly created Federal Works Agency. (At that same time, the Federal Art Project officially became the Federal Art Program.) Under the Federal Art Project, separate photographic divisions were set up in several states, most notably in New York City. In addition to documenting the work and activities of artists employed on the program, photographers documented the activities of other projects under "Federal One," including the Federal Theater and Music Projects. Photographers also worked on creative assignments for exhibitions, photo murals, etc.

Donated anonymously.

How to Use this Collection

  • Read the Finding Aid for this collection
  • This collection is also available on 35 mm microfilm reels 1160-1174 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the collection as described in this finding aid may not reflect the order of the collection on microfilm.
  • Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.
  • For more information on using the Archives’ resources, see the FAQ or Ask Us.

Related Materials

Among the holdings of the Archives of American Art are related collections, including the Federal Art Project of the Work Projects Administration records, 1935-1948. Additional FAP records are held by the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington D.C.