From 1935 to 1943, the United States government funded a massive economic and cultural effort that redefined the way we see America. Called Federal Project No. 1, the initiative was administered by the Works Progress Administration, the ambitious New Deal agency that put millions to work during the Great Depression with public works programs like the construction of highways, bridges, dams, stadiums, and parks. And with the establishment of Federal Project No. 1, the government recognized that cultural producers also had a critical role to play in the nation’s recovery.
Artists with Federal Project funding fanned out across the states, recording oral h
A Queen Is Born
A local beauty pageant can be about more than just looks. It can also reveal how a community wants to be seen.
When Art Is an Act of Protest
A summer of activism in Chicago reminds us that in order for history to be taught, it must first be recorded.
Hole in One
Harnessing the power of the humble hole punch, to either create narratives or deflate them.
Public Service Announcements
Updating the iconic posters of the Works Progress Administration.
If You Build It, They Will Leave
During the New Deal, Southwest DC was razed to create a “model city” for federal workers. Now the area is being redeveloped again, this time into a gentrified urban playground.
Proposals for a Monument
Public art has the power to show us what we want to see—or reveal what we deserve.
A Room of One’s Own
A photograph of a home speaks volumes about the inhabitant, even when they’re not included in the shot.
Back to the Music, Back to the Game
A visit to the juke joints in the Florida Everglades where migrant laborers could go to relax.
This Land Is Your Land
During the Depression, the federal government urged Americans to visit the country’s natural wonders.
The Exquisite Catalog of a Crow Fair
Wendy Red Star brings illustrations from the Denver Art Museum’s card catalog to the Crow Nation’s annual gathering.
The American Guide to the New Vermont
Shane Lavalette follows the refugees who have made their home in the whitest state in the nation.
Stoop Life and Survival
Documenting a life of a neighborhood means covering street life in all of its joy and pain.
The Afterlives of Slaves
Snapshots of a life after slavery, and an imagining of a world without bondage.
Portraits of Hard Living in America
The faces and places of a forgotten swath of American life.
She Works Hard for the Money
During the Depression, women were advised to “sing for their supper” as a way to survive hard times.
Wall to Wall
Public murals are contested spaces, where retellings of history and new visions of the future fight for prominence.
Signs of Boom and Bust
Mark Steinmetz drives the streets of the city’s fast-growing urban sprawl.
After the Curtain Calls
Fulfilling the American dream of standing under bright lights while your friends and neighbors applaud.
The Many Lives of McCarren Park Pool
Beloved, abandoned, then beloved once more, a Brooklyn pool transforms alongside its neighborhood.
The People of the Land
Dust Bowl migrants had to pull up roots. Native Hawaiians are strengthening theirs.
Letting Sleeping Children Lie
Leanne Shapton reconsiders motherhood after seeing a photograph of children asleep during a square dance.
The Cycle of a Woman’s Life
A 20th-century mural for a women’s prison meets 21st-century inequality.
More Federal Project No. 2
A Queen Is Born
A local beauty pageant can be about more than just looks. It can also reveal how a community wants to be seen, and how it sees itself.