U.S. Travel Bureau WPA poster, ca. 1939.
The United States Travel Bureau existed from 1937 to 1943 as an office within the Interior Department, and its mission was to promote travel in the western hemisphere and especially within the United States.
The U.S. Travel Bureau had offices in Washington, DC, New York, and San Francisco. In DC, its office was located at 1702 F Street NW (at the corner of F and 17th), across from today’s Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The building that the Travel Bureau was located in is probably no longer extant.
In their WPA Guide to Washington, DC, federal writers described the Travel Bureau’s office: “Its counter service distributes literature on the National Parks and [literature] issued by States, transportation agencies, boards of trade, and so on… The counter room and hallway are decorated by vivid posters—pictures of Jasper National Park, Zion and Yellowstone, skiing in Sun Valley and Maine, touring in Mexico, Caribbean cruises, winter sports in the Poconos, New Orleans Mardi Gras, aviation in Argentine—which are changed in relation to seasonal interest and to a discerning eye for effect.”
Along with the Travel Bureau, President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed 1940 to be “Travel America Year” (Evening Star, 1940). Unfortunately, World War II eventually ended the activities of the Travel Bureau. However, travel promotion started up again in 1948 with the new “U.S. Travel Division.”
Federal Writers’ Project, Works Progress Administration, The WPA Guide to Washington, DC, Washington, DC: George Washington University, 1938 (1983 Random House reprint), p. 261.
“‘Travel America’ Drive Seen Boosting Visitors to Capital,” Evening Star, June 17, 1940, p. A-13 (accessed September 2, 2020).
“American Tourists, Starting Late, May Set Spending Record,” Sunday Star, July 28, 1940, p. B-4 (accessed September 2, 2020).
“The Traveler’s Notebook,” Sunday Star, September 11, 1938, p. C-7 (accessed September 2, 2020).
“Recreational Travel Takes Role As National Morale Builder In Wartime,” Sunday Star, December 14, 1941, p. D-14 (accessed September 2, 2020).
United States Travel Division, Travel USA Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 1, October 1948.
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on September 3, 2020.
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