Public Works of Art Project selected administrative and business records, 1933-1934

Public Works of Art Project

Collection size: 13.9 linear ft. (on 18 microfilm reels).

Collection Summary: Selected records of the PWAP include the following series: Central Office (Washington, D.C.) Correspondence and Related Records, including progress reports, minutes of meetings, and finance records (reels DC1-3); Correspondence and Personal Files of Edward P. Rowan, Technical Director (reels DC3-4); Central Office Correspondence With Artists (reels DC5-7); Central Office Files and Publicity Materials, including correspondence of project director Edward Bruce (reel DC8); Newspaper Clippings (reels DC8-9); Correspondence and Related records of Cecil Jones, Business Director (reels DC9-12); Final Reports on Projects, Report Materials and Project Issuances (reel DC12); Regional Office Records (reels DC12-13); and selected Correspondence of the New York Regional Office (Region 2) With Artists concerning administrative details of employing artists (DC 112-115). Each series has been described separately.

Biographical/Historical Note: The Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), the first of the New Deal art programs, was established under the Department of the Treasury in December 1933 to assist unemployed artists by enabling them to work on the decoration of non-federal public buildings. Although it lasted only until the following summer, it engaged nearly 4,000 artists in all parts of the country and served as an important precedent for subsequent federal art programs, such as the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. Later art projects administered under the Department of the Treasury were the Section of Fine Arts, originally the Section of Painting and Sculpture, and the Treasury Relief Art Project, both of which served to employ artists to decorate federal buildings across the United States.

Series microfilmed by AAA were selected from the National Archives record group 121, records of the Public Buildings Service. Additional records of the PWAP are preserved at the National Archives. Series which were not microfilmed include: correspondence of L.W. Roberts, assistant secretary of the Treasury; the central file of the Advisory Committee and the Project; card lists of allocated paintings and other works of art; and receipt cards for works of art. AAA has filmed, and described separately, selected records of the Treasury Relief Art Project (reels DC14-38) and the Section of Fine Arts (reels DC38-43) from record group 121. In addition, selected records of the WPA Federal Art Project (National Archives record group 69) were also filmed (reels DC44-DC111 and DC129-130).

How to Use this Collection

  • Microfilm reels DC1-DC13 & DC112-DC115 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
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