Who's Who in New Deal
- Jacob Baker (1895-1967) - Administrator
of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and later of the WPA. Baker
was one of the principal creators of Federal One and the WPA/FAP. Internal
politics and personality conflicts shortened his tenure on the project
he created (1935-1936).
- George Biddle (1885-1973) - Artist.
A friend of FDR's since their days at Groton and Harvard, Biddle's letter
to the president calling for relief for artists is considered the seed
of all the New Deal art projects. Biddle completed a number of works for
- Edward Bruce (1880-1943) - Businessman,
lawyer, banker, artist, and head of the Section of Fine Arts. Though he
showed an early aptitude for art, Bruce established a successful career
as a businessman in the Far East. Then at age 42 he left the Far East and
his business career to study painting in Italy. After three years of study
with Maurice Sterne, he returned and embarked on a successful career as
a painter. In 1933, he was instrumental in the creation of the PWAP and
was named its chief. Actively working for a successor organization, he
oversaw the creation of the Treasury Department's Section of Painting and
Sculpture. Fighting for the integrity and vision of the Section through
its various name and administrative changes sapped Bruce's strength. He
died of a heart attack in early 1943.
- Holger Cahill
(1887-1960) - Born Sveinn Kristjan Bjarnarson in Iceland, at an early age
Cahill's parents brought him to North America. To escape a difficult childhood,
Cahill left home at thirteen, working on ranches, railroads, and as a merchant
marine. Deciding to become a writer, he moved to New York City. He took
journalism courses at New York University at night and made friends with
artists in his Greenwich Village neighborhood. In 1922 he joined the Newark
Museum; in 1932 he became exhibitions director of the Museum of Modern
Art. While at MoMA, Cahill organized a number of important exhibitions
of American folk art. A writer of fiction since the 1920s, Cahill published
novels and short stories as well as doing museum work until 1935 when he
was chosen as the National Director of the Federal Art Project (1935-1943).
Upon leaving the WPA/FAP, he resumed his writing career.
- John Michael Carmody (1881-1963) -
As first administrator of the Federal Works Agency (July 1, 1939), Carmody
oversaw both the WPA/FAP and the Section.
- Olin Dows (1904-1981) - Artist and
art administrator. Dows was director of the Treasury Relief Art Project
(1935-1938) and an important aide to Edward Bruce. His memoirs are a good
source of information on the TRAP and Section.
- Hallie Flanagan (1890-1969) - National
director of the Federal Theatre Project (1935-1939). (photo)
- Francis Clark Harrington (1887-1940)
- A member of the US Army Corps of Engineers (1909-1935), Colonel Harrington
was named Assistant Administrator of the WPA in 1935; he was named Administrator
in 1938 when Harry L. Hopkins left the WPA. His position was retitled Commissioner
when the Works Progress Administration became the Work Projects Administration.
- Harry Lloyd Hopkins (1890-1946) - A
social worker, Hopkins was appointed director of the Federal Emergency
Relief Administration in 1933. With bold plans and unfailing energy, he
quickly took over the massive Federal relief efforts, culminating in the
creation of the WPA in 1935. In December 1938, he was named Secretary of
Commerce and held the post for two years. A close friend of FDR, Hopkins
helped manage his 1940 campaign and tapped to lead the Lend-Lease program
with the United Kingdom in 1941. Throughout the war, Hopkins remained FDR's
- Howard Owen Hunter (1896-1964) - Hunter
was successor to Francis C. Harrington as Commissioner of the WPA (acting
Commissioner, 1940; Commissioner, October 1941-1943).
- Harold Le Clair Ickes (1874-1952) -
An important member of the New Deal, Ickes, as head of the Public Works
Administration (1933-1938) oversaw the construction of billions of dollars
worth of Federal buildings, many of which were adorned with New Deal art.
- Michael Lenson (1903-1971) - Director
of NJ mural projects for the WPA. (his website
- www.michaellenson.org - has much more information)
- Henry Morgenthau, Jr. (1891-1967) -
Secretary of the Treasury (1934-1945), Morgenthau and his first wife, Elinor
(d. 1949) were great supporters of the arts. A good friend of FDR's since
the 1920s, Morgenthau was a direct line to the president from Edward Bruce's
Section until the Section was placed under the Federal Works Agency (1939).
- Thomas C. Parker (1905-1964) - Assistant
Director of the WPA/FAP (1935-1940). During the critical 1939-1940 period,
Parker served as acting director while Holger Cahill was on sabbatical
to work on the New York World's Fair. Parker left the WPA/FAP to become
director of the American Federation of Arts (1940-1952).
- Christian J. Peoples - Director of
the Treasury Department's Office of Procurement. Peoples was Edward Bruce's
- Mrs. Increase Robinson - Born Josephine
Dorothea Reichmann in Chicago, IL on April 2, 1890. (Her parents were Frank
Joseph Reichmann, a transportation official, and Josephine Lemos, an artist
in a long line of artists.) A graduate of Hyde Park High School, she was
the Vice President of her high school class (Class of 1909). She took the
name Increase Robinson after the death of her first husband, Philip Increase
Robinson. She was a member of the Chicago Art Club and the Chicago Society
of Arts. She worked as a painter, teacher, lecturer, gallery owner, and
State Director of the Federal Art Project in Illinois between 1933 and
1938. Controversial and autocratic during her years on the FAP, she was
the frequent focus of the Chicago Artists' Union for her handling of the
artists as well as her financial practices. In March 1938 she was finally
removed as State Director of the Illinois FAP and replaced by George Thorpe.
(excerpt from interview with Dewey Albinson as
it relates to his experience with Mrs. Robinson) - biography
- Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) -
It took some time for FDR's promise of a New Deal to eventually reach America's
artists, but when it did, it was on a scale never before seen in governmental
patronage of the arts. His key advisors included Henry and Elinor Morgenthau,
George Biddle, Edward Bruce, and FDR's wife Eleanor. (Additional
- Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) - A frequent
speaker or guest at important gatherings or exhibition openings, Eleanor
Roosevelt gave generously of her time and prestige to the New Deal arts
- Lincoln Rothschild (1902-1983) - Artist
and art administrator. Director of the Index of American Design (1937-1941).
- Edward Beatty Rowan (1898-1946) - Art
administrator. Rowan and Forbes Watson were second in importance to Edward
Bruce in the Section. Working closely with Bruce on all aspects of the
program, Rowan oversaw much of the daily work of the Section.
- Nikolai Sokoloff (1886-1965) - National
director of the Federal Music Project (1935-1939).
- Brehon Burke Somervell (1892-1955)
- A graduate of West Point (1914), Somervell quickly found his niche transporting
supplies to American troops during World War I. Working on a number of
engineering and supply projects after the war, he was named head of the
New York City WPA in 1936. A tough administrator and no friend of the arts,
Somervell's tenure was marked by controversy, protest, and, on the part
of the artists, unbridled hate. His cutting of wages and employment allocations
and the destruction of a WPA/FAP mural at Floyd Bennett Field for supposed
Communist propaganda made him an easy target for the artists. He returned
to military duty in November 1940.
- Forbes Watson (1880-1960) - Art critic
and administrator. Watson was one of Edward Bruce's closest advisors on
the Section. His numerous articles in the art and popular presses reinforced
the Section's image as the "quality" federal art program.
- Ellen Sullivan Woodward (d. 1971) -
Joining the FERA in 1933, Woodward took over control of Federal One from
Jacob Baker in July 1936 and remained in charge of the projects through
December 1938. Woodward was responsible for overseeing the restructuring
of Federal One as the needs and goals of the WPA as a whole were modified.
(Source: The New Deal Fine Arts Projects - a Bibliography, 1933-1992,
Martin R. Kalfatovic, The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, N.J. & London
(1994), pp. 367-373.