REA Posters / Artwork
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By David Stone Martin, Treasury Section of Fine Arts, 1940
Tempera on cardboard
Fine Arts Collection, General Services Administration
In the early 1930s, 9 out of 10 American farms had no electricity. One of the New Deal's major achievements was bringing electrical power to rural parts of the country, and this success was most vividly demonstrated in the Tennessee River Valley. Through the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the federal government built a series of huge hydroelectric dams to provide power to the countryside. Artist David Stone Martin memorialized this accomplishment in his mural for the post office in Lenoir, TN.
"Rural Electrification Administration co-op office. Lafayette, Louisiana. 1939"
By Peter Sakaer, Rural Electrification Administration
National Archives, Records of the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture
When power companies refused to run lines into rural America, claiming it was too expensive, the New Deal's Rural Electrification Administration sponsored cooperatives that received low-cost government loans for developing electric power. Photographer Peter Sakaer artfully documented one co-op in Louisiana bathed in the light it had brought to the region.

[New Deal Main Page] to see more at the national archives on  'new deal'


Light, from the series
1 of 37

Lester Beall (1912Ė1969)
Light, from the series "Rural Electrification Administration," 1937
101.6 x 76.2 cm (40 x 30 in.)
Lester Beall Collection, Wallace Library, Rochester Institute of Technology, Gift of Joanna Beall Westermann and Lester Beall Jr.

The Rural Electrification Administration, a division of the Department of Agriculture, was developed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to improve the nationís rural areas as well as to revive the post-Depression economy by providing jobs. As one of the first graphic designers to work on this project, Lester Beall created a series of posters for the administration from 1937 to 1941. Because the audience for these posters had limited reading skills, these simple but visually dramatic posters express their messages in primarily graphic terms. The vivid design also reflects the influence of Russian Constructivists on Beallís style. The success of the poster series boosted Beallís career and became a benchmark in the history of graphic design.

Posters American Style Smithsonian American Art Museum See It!

Smithsonian American Art Museum

rea power for defense.jpg (57037 bytes)

Lester Beall's graphically arresting poster suggests that the benefits of electricity can provide rural Americans with a wholesome, comfortable, and efficient lifestyle.

A Better Home poster
For Rural Electrification Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Designer: Lester Beall (American, 1909-1969)
USA, c. 1937-1941
Offset lithograph and screenprint

SRCAPF, GAE, Friends of Drawings and Prints, Sarah Cooper Hewitt Fund, and through the gift of Mrs. Edward C. Post, 1995-106-2

Applied Arts and Industrial Design Department

(This object is part of Design for Life online only. It is not currently on display at the National Design Museum)

© Copyright 1997 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

Visit Archives and Special Collections, RIT Library, Rochester Institute of Technology. 

Beall, Lester
[Boy and Girl on Fence]
40" x 30"


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wpe13.gif (392628 bytes) Click Picture for larger view!

This is from a 1949 IBEW Union Labor Magazine. This was the cover for the "Labor Day Issue"

(George Mann Collection At SMECC)


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