Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Unique Milwaukee WPA Project



On Vintage Cloth Doll Making group


( To visit the group on the web, go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VintageClothdollmaking/ )


We have been having a wonderful discussion on the " WPA dolls "

I went to amazon.com and found a really cool book about the Unique Milwaukee WPA Project

I am really looking forward to getting this book, Has lots of awesome history in it!!


The Customer Review really says allot:


This is a great story, illustrated with 130 historic black-&-white pictures and drawings and 34 color photographs. Mary Kellogg Rice has written a first-person account of her experiences guiding a remarkable Works Progress Administration (WPA) project for unskilled women in Milwaukee during the Great Depression. She was the project's art director and was involved from the 1935 inception of the Handicrafts Project. African American women worked side-by-side with white women, there were black as well as white dolls, and Ms. Rice insisted that the articles to be made be well designed, no matter how simple the article or how inexpensive the materials. These unique characteristics set the Handicrafts Project apart from many other WPA projects.Ms. Rice recounts her visit to a stark, colorless county home for children and the desperate need for beauty and color in that harsh environment. She personally approved every design prior to production. The unskilled workers, under the supervision of designer-forepersons from the art department of the Milwaukee State Treachers College, manufactured toys, draperies, furniture, book bindings, Braille books, woven fabrics, block printed textiles, and dolls with clothes children could button and shoes they could tie. The manufactured articles were used in schools, hospitals, and public institutions (which only paid for materials) throughout the United States.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the project in 1936 and wrote one of her "My Day" syndicated columns about the workers and the high quality of the articles. The Handicrafts Project employed more than 5,000 workers during its eight year lifespan. Ms. Rice, who is now in her 90's, gives us a model for employing persons who aren't highly skilled in the production of simple, elegant, useful articles. This model, which is not being followed in 2003 government work programs, not only trains workers but also gives them pride in the fruits of their labors. Society benefits from such inspired programs. Would that there were more such programs today, under the direction of leaders with the vision of Ms. Rice.

3 comments:

Sewn Seabee said...

What is the name of the book - looks like something I would like to check out.

Sewn Seabee said...

OK - so I didn't even look at the picture that has the name of the book right on it - it must be monday :)

Wonder if any of the patterns for those wonderful dolls survived?

SympleTymes Cloth Art By Sherrie Nordgren said...

I am so looking forward to reading this book, I am such a huge history nut and if it has some thing about a doll in it well that just a bonus! I don't think the book will have a pattern, but on VCD
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VintageClothdollmaking/

Judi Ward created her version on the WPA doll, I am going to try to create it.it says it is for advance doll maker. yikes!

by the way I LOVE your DAME - the Damesfly !!!