History research topic question..looking for advice I have a lengthy research paper due for a history course (Jazz Age and Great Depression) and I have a good topic question that is interesting. I was wondering if anyone with lots of research experience had any advice about where to start. I only have an abstract due within the next couple weeks but eventually I will need complete about 20 pages for the paper. Wondering if anyone has any opinion about my topic question has resource guidance, any advice for possible abstract. Any advice is appreciated. I enjoy reading and writing but I am just unsure of where to start. My research question: To what degree was the art of the WPA (I was thinking someone like Dorothea Lange but some of the muralists would probably work as well) an attempt to justify the need for government intervention? What I mean is basically to what degree was the art program of the WPA used as propaganda for FDR’s political agenda. Through using photos or murals to humanize suffering, did government funded artists have a substantial impact on both public opinion and the success of a political agendas and the social programs of the Depression?  

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As a teacher, I must agree with the other posters in regards to your devotion to education, research, and expansion of theory. I remember when I was working on my own thesis and the research librarian at my university was a God-send. I agree that you should ask for his/her help when trying to find research based materials. No one knows better.

That being said, some of the best novel work comes from those who are forging their own path in an area. Do not be afraid to find something which does not have a lot of research completed already.

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If you do need to expand the scope of your project to look at writers as well, you might like to consider the way in which jazz music is described and refered to in literature of the period. A great story for teens that I have read recently, which is based in this period, is called Bud, not Buddy, and has a wonderful description of jazz music.

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Along with everyone else, love the direction you've taken with this topic.  The Library of Congress Digital Collection has hundreds of WPA photos, including that of murals and artwork, and of the artistic compilations put out with WPA funding at that time.  Here's the link:


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I love your idea.  I wonder, if you do run into a paucity of information,whether you might want to consider expanding your concept of "art" to include writers.   Your point, which is that work was chosen for the deliberate purpose of good public relations for the government agenda, might also be well-supported by looking at authors.

The other aspect that occurs to me is that it might be difficult to find much in the way of documentation of such a purpose, but that you might be able to establish your point indirectly, for example, by examining how much publicity was actually generated through the selection of such "visible" workers.  Were there many newspaper articles?  Were there press releases from the government?  In those days, I think, (although I have no personal knowledge), the media were far more willing to be fed news from the government, with less critical review than we have today.  How much publicity was planted to advance FDR's agenda?

I think we would all like to know more about this project as you move along.

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I have to say that I have been impressed by the discussion questions you have been posting, and this one is also impressive.  You are obviously a thoughtful and serious student.

Remember that you can find a great deal of information through Google Books and Google Scholar.  For example, here's what turned up when I put "WPA and political propaganda" into Google Books:


Here's what turned up in a search of Google Scholar:


Here are some results from Google Images:


All hail Google!  Good luck with your work!




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What an inspired project! Sounds very interesting, and I hope you are able to find the right research info that you need. I have included a couple of web sites that might help a bit.






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I would definitely agree with the previous post - get in touch with the research librarian or staff at your college! You could also check into any local history group(s) in your locale that might be able to help you find local examples of WPA artwork that could be incorporated into your research.

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Since you are in college, my best advice is to go to the library and talk to the research librarian.  This person is an expert in research, and can show you which databases you have access to through your library.  The research librarian may also be able to give you some local information.

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