On This Day in History Quilt for May 6.

On this day in 1933, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed 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 people 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 read more about it’s history, design and construction. Be sure to use the zoom tool for a detailed view.


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Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance