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WPA Museum Extension Project photographs of Philadelphia


Held at: Philadelphia History Museum [Contact Us]15 South 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia History Museum. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created in 1935 by an Executive Order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It employed idle workers affected by the Great Depression in force since the stock market crash of 1929 on a variety of projects to benefit the nation, including construction, infrastructure, and public works projects as well as arts and culture initiatives. In 1939, the agency was renamed the Work Projects Administration. It continued to operate until 1943.

Soon after the WPA was established, the WPA of Pennsylvania started a Museum Extension Project in 1935 to create visual education aids for classroom use. Its stated goals were: "1. To keep alive and further the skill of unemployed artists, sculptors, writers and others with manual dexterity by giving them employment. 2. To furnish the schools of Pennsylvania with historic models, plates and maps, particularly the smaller school districts in which Museum advantages have been denied the pupils."

The Pennsylvania Museum Extension Program had seven offices in and around Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. The Philadelphia office was co-sponsored with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Atwater Kent Museum (now known as the Philadelphia History Museum), and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Its office was located at Crawford Street and Krail Street in the Falls of Schuylkill neighborhood, now known as East Falls.


Finding aid to "New Deal Era and WPA Materials in the Pennsylvania State Archives." Accessed November 24, 2014.

Findlay, Jim. "The Works Progress Administration (WPA) and its Sub-Agency, the Museum Extension Project." Accessed November 24, 2014.

Pennsylvania Museum Extension Program. "Report: Philadelphia Museum Extension Projection." 1935. West Chester University. Accessed November 24, 2014.

This collection consists of almost 500 photographs of sites and streetscapes in Philadelphia, including commercial, residential, and public buildings. It is unknown whether these photographs were intended for use as visual aids in classrooms, or whether they were reference images and research for artists creating other forms of educational aids (such as building models). Nearly all of the photographs are labeled with location. The principle photographer was McLintock (first name unknown). An item level inventory is available on site.

Gift of WPA, 1940 (Herbert and Betty Rolfes, accession 40.10)

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Philadelphia History Museum directly for more information.

Philadelphia History Museum
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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