Stevenson Library Digital Collections

Conclusion and Bibliography

Throughout her life as a public figure, Eleanor paid special attention to the role of the fine arts in American life. As part of her advocacy for the New Deal, she emphasized the progressive values of shared work and democratization across all sectors of culture. Her personal sponsorship of artists and programs often addressed the social realities of their work, and within the arts she saw the potential for social change and progress in accordance with her broader vision of human rights and cooperation. These artworks, be they monumental or decorative, all expressed the values of Eleanor’s social agenda. The fundamental emphasis on the artist, as both the recorder of social ills and the dreamer of new realities, remains constant throughout all of her advocacy. Although the programs sponsored under the New Deal are no longer active, their presence across the country can still be felt in the public school programs, the local museums, and murals in civic buildings. Eleanor set the standard for the First Lady’s forceful sponsorship of pressing social initiatives without sparring attention towards the arts and culture. Indeed, Eleanor showed the American public the possibility of integrating the fine arts into the public sphere, not only in the federal government, but also the fabric of American daily life.


Special thanks to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum for research assistance and for providing a number of photographs in this exhibit. In particular, thanks to Michelle M. Frauenberger, Museum Collections Manager, for her help in finding and determining the rights status of high quality images. 


Primary Sources

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum

Roosevelt, Franklin D. Papers as President, Official File.

Eleanor Roosevelt Papers.          

Marlene Park and Gerald E. Markowitz New Deal Art Research Collection. 

Selected Digitized Correspondence of Eleanor Roosevelt, 1933-1945: Bruce, Edward, 1934-1941     (

 Archives of American Art

[Olin Dows Oral History]

Secondary Sources

Arsenault, Raymond. 2009. The sound of freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the concert that awakened America. New York: Bloomsbury Press.

Biddle, George. 1939. An American artist's story. Boston: Little, Brown.

Contreras, Belisario R. 1983. Tradition and innovation in New Deal art. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press.

Kennedy, Roger G., and David Larkin. 2009. When art worked. New York: Rizzoli.

McKinzie, Richard D. 1973. The New Deal for artists. [Princeton]: Princeton University Press.

O'Connor, Francis V. 1972. The New Deal art projects; an anthology of memoirs. Washington: Smithsonian Institution.

Park, Marlene, and Gerald E. Markowitz. 1984. Democratic vistas: post offices and public art in the New Deal. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Roosevelt, Eleanor. "The new governmental interest in the arts." American Magazine of Art 27 (September 1934, supplement): 47.

White, John Franklin. 1987. Art in action: American art centers and the New Deal. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press.

Wright, Emily L. 1982. Eleanor Roosevelt and the Val-Kill Industries, 1927-1938. S.l: s.n.]. (Thesis at SUNY Oneonta)