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Visit the Brookfield Zoo, WPA poster, ca. 1937

See America, The US Travel Bureau, Vintage Reproduction, WPA Poster

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“Be Kind to Books Club” WPA reading poster by artist Arlington Gregg

The focus on the “public good” dominates the themes and messages of WPA posters. From eating healthy, to getting vaccinations, the posters all extolled the virtues of ideal Americans. It is interesting to look at the role reading and libraries played in this system. As with the library posters from previous generations, many of the posters of this time simply promote reading in some form. This time period begins to offer some unique approaches to this message for individual groups of readers. The two posters below are examples of a new way to promote the familiar message. By tailoring the poster to students, these posters show one of the many possible audiences that future library posters would try to capture.

Although the positive messages of the WPA posters would not last, their influence, particularly in artistic style, is still evident today. Many of the early National Library Week posters have an artistic style similar to the WPA posters, but styles of the 1960s and 70s share very little with these simple designs. In the past twenty years, WPA posters have reemerged and have become collector’s items in the art community.

“Miss Muffet” WPA reading poster by artist Arlington Gregg

“Be Kind to Books Club” WPA reading poster by artist Arlington Gregg

We've compiled a list of the 25 best vintage WPA posters below. Scroll through the slideshow and let us know your favorite piece in the comments.

Although the positive messages of the WPA posters would not last, their influence, particularly in artistic style, is still evident today. Many of the early National Library Week posters have an artistic style similar to the WPA posters, but styles of the 1960s and 70s share very little with these simple designs. In the past twenty years, WPA posters have reemerged and have become collector’s items in the art community.