Tracking Down WPA National Park Posters

1938 Grand Teton original serigraph - first design

1938 Grand Teton original serigraph - first design produced, 1938 (year poster created)
1938 Grand Teton National Park poster – WPA  Source
Photo Credit: unknown - probably Doug Leen

Doug Leen, a former ranger at Grand Teton National Park, took an interesting an old poster being thrown out and it led him to rediscover the source of that poster, and 14 others, created by the WPA to advertise the National Parks. It also led to Berkeley and the University of California, where Glen Martin of California Magazine picked up the story…

“So he researched his find, and found that it was one of a series of 14 posters commissioned by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration from 1938 to 1941 to promote the nation’s national parks. All the posters were produced by unemployed artists hired by the WPA, and all were created in a facility on the UC Berkeley campus known as the Western Museums Laboratories. No more than a hundred posters were printed—mostly by silk-screening—for each park.”

Doug went on to dig up originals of 12 of the 14 posters, and only the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota are still missing. Doug’s collection is on view at POSTERity, the current exhibit at the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Museum in Washington, DC.

Maybe YOU have a copy of one of the missing posters? If so, let Doug Leen know.

The full story, by Glen Martin, is online here at California Magazine or you can download it here. POSTERity

P.S.  We were just alerted that National Public Radio also did a story by Brian Naylor on the POSTERity show and Doug Leen, as well as a bit on Morning Edition, which you can find here on the NPR website.

Richard Walker is the director of the Living New Deal

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