JANUARY 11, 1938
WASHINGTON, Monday—I fulfill my promise to tell you about the WPA exhibit with the greatest of joy, because I spent a perfectly delightful hour at the National Museum discovering what a variety of skills were developing all over this country.
There are things being done on WPA which are going to be of lasting value historically. Such, for instance, as the copying and printing of county records which would otherwise fade away to illegibility, or simply crumble to pieces. The book of American design will be a storehouse of knowledge and inspiration to artists and to all those interested in any lines of commercial or artistic work.
I can think of nothing more helpful educationally than the little window dioramas which go as traveling exhibits from museums to state schools. Every state should have a project of this kind in connection with its museums, for the authentic figures and scenes which have been made to represent different periods must be invaluable to children studying Roman history, Greek history, or, in fact, any period.
I can't help thinking that enterprising young people might earn a good living for themselves with a project such as this, which I saw under way in a Mid-Western city. They could make these traveling exhibits and then, when the different schools were familiar with the periods they were studying and when the time came to let them write or act some period play, these young people could make the costumes. A school could gradually build up a theatre wardrobe for a very small sum.
Everyone who knows children, knows the joy they have in dressing up and every educator uses this interest to increase the child's interest in literature and history. It seems to me that, given a city of fair size, the schools could keep a group of costumers and model-makers busy.
But I must not forget to tell you of the wonderful dolls which are being made in Milwaukee. I believe they are now being made commercially. I can't believe there is a child who wouldn't appreciate these dolls. There is weaving, block printing, pottery work, the making of clothes and the giving of music to an ever-increasing audience.
Yes, it may have cost us a great deal, but there are tangible evidences of the WPA construction projects all over this country. Of non-construction projects, such as are being exhibited at the National Museum, I think we are going to find constantly increasing evidences of usefulness.
Dr. Louise Stanley, of the Bureau of Home Economics, came in to my press conference this morning and gave some interesting accounts of the research work being done in the various phases of American life at different income levels. It is perfectly evident that housing and food are largely influenced by the size of the family income and that these two things affect production in basic industries is more significant than the average person thinks.