Happy 81st Birthday, WPA Tulip!

On this day in 1933, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs an executive order to enact the Works Progress Administration (WPA), one of several Depression-era relief programs that put unemployed people to work in 1935. Three million were employed by WPA jobs alone. Civil projects like building bridges, highways, schools, hospitals, and public arts work like murals, literary publications and plays were all funded by WPA funds.

Minnie Benberry of Western Kentucky, mother-in-law of quilt historian Cuesta Benberry made this “W.P.A. Tulip” quilt around 1930. From this Quilt Index record: “Mrs. Benberry (Cuesta) noted that this quilt was one of the WPA quilts from the Great Depression era. She explained that the government hired artists and craftspersons to make quilts during that time of economic hardship. This program served two purposes: These quilts were something of use, utilitarian, yet beautiful and also gave work to talented Americans who had no other means of employment.

This quilt is part of the Cuesta Benberry Quilt and Ephemera Collection, donated to Michigan State University Museum in 2008 by Benberry’s son.

View this quilt on The Quilt Index to find out! Read more about its history, design and construction. Be sure to use the zoom tool for a detailed view or click the “See full record” link to see a larger image and all the data entered about that quilt.


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Amy Milne headshot

Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance

This entry was posted in On this Day in History Quilts series and tagged , , , by quiltalliance. Bookmark the permalink.

About quiltalliance

The Quilt Alliance is a nonprofit 501c3 organization established in 1993 whose mission is to document, preserve, and share our International quilt heritage by collecting the rich stories that historic and contemporary quilts, and their makers, tell about our nation's diverse peoples and their communities. In support of this mission, the Alliance brings together quilt makers and designers, the quilt industry, quilt scholars and teachers, and quilt collectors to further the following goals: To promote the understanding of the quilt as an important grassroots art form. To make information about quilts available to a broad public. To educate the public about the importance of documenting quilts and quiltmakers so that their stories will not be lost.

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