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A Spark in the Dark
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Winter 2017

A colleague's research into the art of the New Deal recently led her to the National Archives. That’s where Kathleen Duxbury discovered a calendar published in 1939 by the Federal Arts Project, a lifeline for artists during the Great Depression. The calendar showcased a collection of WPA posters. What’s more, the dates perfectly matched those of 2017. The similarities and contrasts between 1939 and 2017 are noteworthy. Then, as now, our country faced economic, environmental, and social turmoil. By contrast, our leaders then launched themselves into actively improving the lives of everyday Americans by creating jobs, affordable housing, public art, and recreation. In this, our first newsletter of 2017, we call out some remarkable examples.

In the year ahead, we will continue to shine a light on the New Deal and the spirit of compassionate and honest government that it stands for. A source of hope, then and now. Thank you for your support.


In this issue
Skiing in Massachusetts, Courtesy of the CCC, by Alex Tarr
Greenhills Named a National Historic Landmark, by Susan Ives
Uncovering California's New Deal Art, by Gray Brechin
CCC Totem Pole Inventory Needed, by Susan Ives
Florida's New Deal Landscapes in Jeopardy, by David Driapsa
 
Book Review
New Deal Photography: USA 1935-1943, Farm Security Administration, by Peter Walther, Taschen, 2016, 605 pp., reviewed by Susan Ives

 

Skiing in Massachusetts, Courtesy of the CCC

By Alex Tarr


The long, cold winter months can take their toll. To help stave off cabin fever, winter sports that get people out and enjoying—rather than dreading—snowy days are invaluable. Surprisingly, it was not until the 1930s that skiing became a popular form of recreation in the mountains of the eastern U.S. The CCC helped make the sport widely accessible to New Englanders. Read more

Greenhills Named a National Historic Landmark

By Susan Ives


The Village of Greenhills, Ohio, is one of only three New Deal “greenbelt” towns in the country. On January 11, it was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Department of the Interior. Read more

Uncovering California's New Deal Art

By Gray Brechin


An exhibition at the University of Santa Clara in 1976 began the rediscovery of a buried civilization. "New Deal Art: California” pulled out of storage surviving works of New Deal art while pointing to others long ignored in public spaces. Read more

CCC Totem Pole Inventory Needed  

By Susan Ives


During the New Deal, the U.S. government took an unprecedented step toward preserving Native American art: It funded an effort to repair and replicate scores of totem poles in southeast Alaska. Yet, without an inventory of the totems it is impossible to know their status. Read more

Florida's New Deal Landscapes in Jeopardy

By David Driapsa 


Florida’s State Parks—like those of other states—greatly benefited from New Deal programs as well as from FDR's personal interest in conservation. Few today recognize them as cultural landscapes as well as natural treasures. Read more

BOOK REVIEW:

New Deal Photography: USA 1935-1943

By Peter Walther, Taschen, 2016, 605 pp., $19.95

Reviewed by Susan Ives

The Farm Security Administration’s (FSA) mandate was to combat rural poverty. One powerful weapon was to document it. Taschen, an international publisher renowned for its standout coffee table books, has reprised New Deal Photography, USA 1935-1943, in a 6 x 8 inch format. It includes more than 400 photographs of those whose lives were upended during the Great Depression. Read more

NNDPA Reissues 1939 WPA/FAP Calendar

 

A 1939 WPA calendar matches the dates for 2017. Each month features a poster and info about the artist. $19.39! Order here. Proceeds benefit the National New Deal Preservation Association. 

Vintage:
Beer, Wine, and Spirits Labels




In the 1930s, the Lehmann Printing and Lithographing Company of San Francisco produced richly illustrated labels, ephemera, and books ushering in the post-Prohibition era. See this vibrant exhibition at the California Historical Society through April 16, 2017.

Bridging Urban America: The Story of Ralph Modjeski




A documentary celebrating one of the most prolific engineers of the 20th century and the landmark bridges that transformed American cities. Check PBS listings.
Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt
 
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Editor's Note:

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