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Undoubtably True

That’s a poster created by the Works Progress Administration, one of the main elements of the New Deal between 1935 and 1943. The WPA created a lot of jobs during the Great Depression, typically through creating projects for people to work on. Because the WPA employed a lot of artists and writers – sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly – we have today a lot of late-1930s and early-1940s representations that it left behind. (Berenice Abbott’s “Changing New York” project, which I’ve been featuring here for months, was funded by the WPA.)

The jobs that were made available by the agency were not always in the same fields as those that people had lost. The poster above is an example of the not-so-subtle encouragement given to people to consider new professions. The four jobs mentioned require specialized training but are close to entry level and, in the late 1930s, did not necessarily require a college education.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that there was a specific style of art used on most of these posters, simplified and streamlined, that in some ways reflects the architectural and industrial design styles of the time. There is a scene in “Mad Men” where a commercial artist is insulted by having his work, in the early 1960s, compared to the WPA style, which was by then out of date.