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an MFA thesis project

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the project

need and background

Most people are familiar with the Works Progress Administration (WPA), an FDR-era solution to ease the hardships of the nation due to the Great Depression, even if only slightly. Many may even be familiar with the posters designed and displayed as part of the WPA’s work. The most well-known are likely those featuring some of our nation’s national parks. But what is known about those who actually designed those posters? Unfortunately, many of their stories have been untold or forgotten.


Hardly any research has been conducted about the poster designers themselves, and none looks beyond their time with the WPA. These designers are important and deserve, need, to be remembered not simply for their contributions to the Federal Art Project but to design history in general. Especially the women.


It is an unfortunate fact that many women’s contributions to history often go unacknowledged. This is essential and significant research into the untold women poster designers of the WPA. This research goes beyond the WPA’s relatively brief period of time. The only way to understand who they were as designers and what their contributions to the field of design were is to look at their lives and work as a whole. These women were poster designers for the WPA, but they were much more than that.

the project

presenting the research

As mentioned above, my initial research focuses on three women poster designers of  the WPA: Vera Bock, Katherine Milhous, and Dorothy Waugh. The research explores beyond their time in the WPA. The goal is to understand who they were as designers and what their contributions were to the field of design. Telling a more complete story so they are not lost to history. This has included gathering physical objects from their lives and careers. The content consists of a considerable number of visual artifacts: images, books, posters, illustrations, and additional assorted design work. The nature of this content lends itself to display.


To present my research, I will design and mount an exhibition featuring a selection of the visual content I have compiled. The design elements for the exhibition will include a visual identity, associated print and digital collateral, and educational didactics. The objects displayed will be representative of the design work these three women created throughout their careers.


The second way that I have chosen to present my thesis research is with this website created specifically to document my past research and the ongoing work to document these designers that I will continue in the future. The website will serve multiple functions within the overall project, including, but not limited to, being a record of all the materials I find related to each woman, some of which will not be included in the exhibition on campus. The website allows this research to continue beyond my thesis defense. My hope is that in the future, more will be known about these untold designers who were part of a pivotal moment in American Poster Design. And while this website is

only one of the ways the project and

the research will continue; it serves the

the unique role of documenting the project, both past and present.

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This project has been made possible in part thanks to the University of Baltimore Research Council'sTurner Research and Travel Awards.


For any inquiries or to start a conversation about untold designers, please get in touch.

Thanks for submitting!

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