Franklin D. Roosevelt and the WPA in 1935

WPA (Works Progress Administration) figures .

Check out these Depression Dolls on eBay.

The WPA was established in 1935 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The program provided jobs to the unemployed during the Great Depression. It was closed in 1943. The figures were sent to libraries and schools to be displayed for educational purposes. This pair is still traveling with their original wood shipping crate.

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The colors of their clothing is bright. The condition is amazing. They are constructed as adult figures of plaster or composition. Their arms rotate at their shoulders, similar to that of a mannequin. They have painted molded hair and features.

They are about 16 inches tall. He has an identification card attached to the front of his wood base stating that he is: Sicily, Italy ...... Peasant of Randazzo

Isn't he handsome? He has the same sultry features as Rudolf Valentino. For those of you who are too young to know to remember him, he was a hot dude who acted in silent films.

Buttons cascade down the side of his spats and the bottom of his pants. He has tiny buttons on the front of his vest.


She has an identification card attached to her wood base stating that she represents:

Sicily, Italy ........ Piana Dei Greci.

Her clothing is exquisite. Antique embroidered net sleeves are so delicate and lovely. Her heavily embroidered satin skirt is enhanced by an ancient metal belt encrusted with rhinestones - the matching earrings and necklace complete her stunning costume.

The wood crate has a handwritten paper label, and the Lid is padded to protect the figures during transport.

WPA figures are scarce. Occasionally they surface at a doll show / sale, but they are a part of our American history and have had a place in our museums for many years. Sadly, many museums are either closing or selling many of the items they feel do not draw many patrons to the institution.

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Another unusual example of WPA figures, this lady has sharply contrasted features but not the exceptional definition of the Sicilian pair.

Syrian Peasant Woman

The colors of her clothing are bright. She is dressed in simple pieces of cotton and totes a five-inch basket of oranges on her head. Unlike the Sicilian pair, she has a cloth over wire armature with upper arms, legs, and torso of composition or plaster. Her head is on a crude shoulder plate. Her slippers are of soft plain leather. Nothing ornate on this lady!

Her wood shipping crate has a stamp on the interior:

"Assistance in the preparation of this material was furnished by the United States Work Projects Administration."

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Welcome to "Show and Tell"! WPA Dolls or figures

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Russian dolls Not rated yet
In the 30s I was given a 12 inch stuffed cotton doll by an aunt in Oregon. She is in Russian costume, handmade, and I was told they were to help women …

I have 3 WPA dolls; 1 in need of repair. Not rated yet
I bought 3 dolls back in 1992 from another antiques dealer. Up until now I have been unable to find much out about them. Virginia planter is one of them. …

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