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Associated American Artists(AAA): 

The Associated American Artists, founded in 1934 by Reeves Lewenthal.  A private institution, it offered much needed financial help to artists during the Great Depression by commissioning limited edition prints to market to the middle class.  Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry all participated in the AAA.

Source:  Stearns 118

American Artists’ Congress(AAC): 

In the early 1930s, the Popular Front and the American Communist Party issued a call for intellectuals, artists, and writers to form local groups to fight the spread of Fascism.  In 1936, the American Artists’ Congress was founded by a group of New York artists, including Adolph Dehn, Louis Lozowick, Moses Soyer, and Harry Sternberg, in response to this call.

Sources:  Grove Dictionary of Art

    Pohl 57, 65, 67

Art Students League(ASL): 

The Art Students League of New York was founded in 1875 to provide a more liberal, creative approach to American art education; until the late 1930s, it was the only school to offer regular printmaking classes.  Numerous important artists attended or taught there, including Adolf Dehn, Leo Meissner, Elizabeth Olds, and Ben Shahn.

Sources:  Langa 30

Artists for Victory: 

Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Hugo Gellert had been involved with the group Artists Societies for Defense.  Once the United States joined World War II, however, Gellert helped coordinate a merge between Artists Societies for Defense and the National Art Council for Defense into the larger, anti-fascist Artists for Victory.  He eventually served as Chairman of this group.  At its peak, Artists for Victory had 10,000 members and put together numerous political art exhibitions.  Its most ambitious exhibition was its 1943 print show, America in the War, which opened in 26 museums simultaneously across the country.

Sources:  Landau 3


    Pohl 73-74
Ashcan School: 

Informally started in 1891 by Robert Henri, the Ashcan school was a loose groups of artists dedicated to painting, drawing, and printing images of the urban poor using a realistic, gritty approach.  Primarily active in Philadelphia and New York during the early 20th century, the artists usually avoided a strictly realistic style in favor of sketchier brushstrokes and a rougher paint application.

Sources:  “The Ashcan School”

    “Ashcan School”

                 Stokstad 1082-1083

Associated American Artists (AAA): 

The Associated American Artists, founded in 1934 by Reeves Lewenthal.  A private institution, it offered much needed financial help to artists during the Great Depression by commissioning limited edition prints to market to the middle class.  Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry all participated in the AAA.

Source:  Stearns 118


In 1919, architect Walter Gropius (1993–1969) reorganized the German Art School and renamed it the Bauhaus (Building Institute).  Gropius believed architecture was a collective art, and he organized the school’s campus to create an inter-related complex of studios, machine shops, professors’ houses, etc.  Bauhaus artists explored new approaches to printing, painting, metalcraft, and pottery.  Never forgetting the utilitarian purpose, the objects they designed were intended to serve (eg a chair is intended for sitting).  Gropius’ buildings reflected the technological advancements of the twentieth century.  The Bauhaus fostered the International style of architecture noted for “glass curtain walls.” The school was shut down by the Nazi party in 1933, prompting many of its members to move to the US.

Sources:  “The Bauhaus School”

                 Stokstad 1096–1099


An unfair preference for, or dislike of something. To influence somebody or something unfairly or in a biased way.

Source: Encarta Dictionary: North America


A song or instrumental piece of music in the style of a type of popular music that developed from African American folk songs in the early 20th century, consisting mainly of slow sad songs often performed over a repeating harmonic pattern.

Source: Encarta Dictionary: North America

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC):

One of the earliest New Deal programs (1922-42) established to relieve unemployment during the Great Depression by providing national conservation work primarily for young unmarried men. Projects included planting trees, building flood barriers, fighting forest fires, and maintaining forest roads and trails. Source: The New Encyclopedia Britannica Vol. 3 Micropedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Chicago, 1989.

Civil Works Administration (CWA):  

An organization (1933-34) established by the New Deal to create jobs along with the Civilian Conservation Corps, a.k.a. the CCC. The CWA concentrated on providing construction jobs, mainly improving or constructing buildings and bridges.

Source: Wikipedia:

Communist Party of the USA(CPUSA): 

The American Communist Party, founded in 1919 and to which a number of artists belonged or had sympathy.

Sources:  “Frequently Asked Questions”

     Pohl 49, 57


representative given the authority to act on behalf of the political party for their state, e.g. Ohio, to vote at the national convention


a film or photograph that shows social conditions or records actual events without fictionalizing them.

Farm Security Administration (FSA)

The Farm Security Administration was begun by Rexford Tugwell in 1935 and originally headed by Roy Stryker.  It was started as the Historical Section of the Resettlement Administration with a goal of “communicating the plight of the rural poor and the work of government programs to members of Congress and the American middle class in order to alleviate that poverty.”  It was renamed the Farm Security Administration in 1937 and ultimately became part of the Office of War Information (OWI) in 1942. Many of the poor were moved under this program to group farms on land that was better  for farming.  Though a group of 6 photographers took the bulk of the photos from 1937-43 the organization employed eighteen photographers.  The photos depicted both the ‘natural and social landscape’ of the Midwest, focusing on the lives of the rural poor.  Included in the collection is a section on flooding along the Ohio River in 1937.   In addition to the photos in the Columbus Museum of Art’s Photo League collection, the FSA-OWI photographs are available online through the Library of Congress  American Memory website (

Sources: Preston, Catherine L.  The American Midwest An Interpretive Encyclopedia, pp. 594-5, Wikipedia  3 August, 2007

Federal Artist Project(FAP): 

The Federal Art Project was began in 1935 as a WPA program intended specifically to offer financial help to artists in need.  Prior to the FAP, the federal government had attempted to institute other programs to help artists, namely the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) (1933-1934), but the FAP was ultimately the most successful.  It employed thousands of artists through the thirties and early forties, often hiring them to create work in public spaces.

Source:  Pohl 15

Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA):

A works program established in 1933 to help support artists including some of those already working with the PWAP. Some 450 theater workers, for example, formed small performing units that played spot bookings in several major cities from 1933-35. This program, like many in the New Deal, was rather short-lived.                                                                                                                           Source: Adams & Goldbard 1986,1995

Federal Project Number One or Federal One: 

The name for the group of projects under the Work Projects Administration in FDR’s Second New Deal.  It was the largest of the projects and included the Federal Writer’s Project (FWP), Federal Theatre Project (FTP), Federal Music Project (FMP), Federal Art Project (FAP) and the Historical Records Survey (HRS). 

Source: Goldbard, Arlene and Adams, Don.

Federal Theatre units presented more than 1,000 performances each month before nearly one million people. Nearly 80% of the audience received free admission.  It produced over 1,200 plays and introduced 100 new playwrights. It also broadcast “Federal Theatre of the Air” over all major networks and was able to reach over 10 million listeners. Among the actors employed in FTP were Orson Welles, John Houseman, Burt Lancaster, E.G. Marshall and Joseph Cotton.

Source: Goldbard, Arlene and Adams, Don.

Federal Writers Project: (FWP):

The FWP included a project in which guidebooks were written for each state plus Alaska, Guam, Puerto Rico and Washington D. C.   The Federal Writers Project employed 6,686 writers in all 48 states.  The group also did research on a number of American topics and a developed an oral history archive with collections of folklore and Slave Narratives ( See for a listing of the narratives).

Source: Goldbard, Arlene and Adams, Don.


An enclosing structure erected to enclose an area and act as a barrier.

Source: Encarta Dictionary: North America

The Great Depression:

A drastic decline in the world economy resulting in mass unemployment and widespread poverty that lasted from 1929 until 1939. Also called Depression

Source: Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation.

John Reed Club: 

Originally founded in 1929 in New York by CPUSA, by 1934 there were thirty branches across the country.  The clubs were named for John Reed, an American radical leftist, and were intended to support and foster both artistic talent and sympathetic political viewpoints.  While a minority of its members were actually active Communists, many New York artists participated in (and benefited by) its exhibitions of socially conscious artwork.

Source:  Langa 19, 32-3

Kahlo, Frida: 

Born in 1907 in Mexico City, Frida Kahlo became one of the most important Mexican painters of the 20th century.  Besides her surrealist-influenced, often biographical art, Kahlo was also known for her extravagant and very public persona.  She had two tumultuous marriages with muralist Diego Rivera, was an outspoken Communist, and suffered bouts of severe pain throughout her life due to a bus accident when she was eighteen.

Source:  Lucie-Smith

Ku Klux Klan:

A secret society whose ultimate goal is to establish white supremacy. Founded in 1866 at Pulaski, Tennessee, the Ku Klux Klan violently attacked and intimidated African Americans and white Republicans (carpetbaggers and Union League members). Ex-Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest (1862-77), who had massacred black and white Union soldiers at Fort Pillow, was elected its first Grand Wizard. The organization's name is thought to have come from the Greek word for circle (kuklos) and the English word for clan, although some historians and folklorists speculate that it might have had its origins in the phantom Indian chieftain named Clocletz. This spiritual figure was believed, in slave times, to have roamed the Alabama woods hunting for escaped slaves. The Clocletz Indians were indeed an historic people used for that purpose--and many blacks identified the word with terror and capture .

Source: Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. © 2006 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.


a group of people or organizations working together for a common goal


A relief print much like a woodcut, but using linoleum rather than a woodblock.  The linoleum is a little easier to cut and prints more evenly since it lacks the grain of the wood.

Source: Walker 137


Invented in 1798 by Senefelder, lithography is the first printmaking technique to use a level printing area.  (Older techniques worked by carving or incising the design into wood, stone, or metal).  Lithography is possible due to the natural repulsion of oil and water: the artist uses a greasy crayon or liquid to draw a design onto a prepared granular surface (once Bavarian limestone, now more commonly a specially grained alloy plate).  The stone or plate is then dampened.  This makes the surface reject ink, except for the greasy image.  An oil-based ink, which sticks only to the artist’s greasy drawing, is rolled over the stone.  Prints are made by firmly pressing a sheet of paper over the inked stone – the ink that stayed on the waxy drawing transfers to the paper.

Sources:  “Lithography”

                 Stokstad glossary 8

                 Gilmour 38-47


Hanging, execution; Execution of a presumed offender by a mob without trial, under the pretense of administering justice. It sometimes involves torturing the victim and mutilating the body. Lynching has often occurred under unsettled social conditions. The term derives from the name of Charles Lynch, a Virginian who headed an irregular court to persecute loyalists during the American Revolution. In the United States, lynching was widely used in the post-Reconstruction South against blacks, often to intimidate other blacks from exercising their civil rights.

Source: Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. © 2006 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. All rights reserved

The Masses: 

Published in New York from 1911-1917, The Masses was a graphic, politically motivated magazine featuring articles and artwork by radicals such as John reed and Rockwell Kent.  The Masses was shut down by the government in 1917, but was succeeded by The Liberator and New Masses.

Source:  Zurier xv-xviii


Symbol, figurative language, implicit comparison, for example, to say that somebody is a snake

Source: Encarta Dictionary North America


Inspiration, stimulus, reason or incentive.

Source: Encarta Dictionary North America

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909 under the leadership of W.E.B DuBois as an institution dedicated to fighting discrimination against African-Americans.  Originally, the organization planned protests and participated in court cases to draw attention and opposition to racism.  The also lobbied to pass laws against racism.  However, by the 1930s, the NAACP branched out and organized “An Art Commentary on Lynching.”

Sources:  “NAACP Timeline” Pohl 48

New Deal:

1. The policies of social and economic reform introduced in the United States in the 1930s under the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

2. The period during which Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policies of social and economic reform were implemented.

Source: Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.


candidate voted by majority rule                                                                     

Source: Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

PAX- (Latin):

A period of peace and stability under the influence of a powerful country or empire.

Source: Encarta Dictionary


assumed identity or role or personal façade  

Source: Encarta Dictionary

Perspective or Point of view

somebody’s particular way of thinking about or approaching a subject as shaped by their own experience, character, mindset and history

Source: Encarta Dictionary


Historically, an image formed on film by a camera and developed with chemicals to produce a print. Today many photographs are printed digitally onto paper with the use of a computer and computer printer.


the act, process, art or profession of making photographs

The Photo League:

The Photo League was a non-profit, volunteer organization based in New York, (1936–1951) of amateur and professional photographers committed to the transformative power of photography to effect social change.  Many of the artists, relatively unknown at the time, became the most important photographers of the 20th Century.  The Photo League was an outgrowth of the Film and Photo League.  Members were drawn to the League because of its function as a cooperative center for education and exhibitions.  During the time of the Photo League, few photography schools existed, and those that did charged tuition nearly double that of the Photo League’s $15 dues.  The Columbus Museum of Art holds a collection of 170 works by 70 artists, including 16 women, from the Photo League.

Sources:  Sweney 16

   Tucker 7, 9-11

Political commentary:

A series of notes explaining or interpreting a written text, clarifying a situation, or records events, usually written by somebody who participated in them.

Source: Encarta Dictionary and Encarta Encyclopedia English

Political convention:  

A meeting of delegates of a political party for the purpose of selecting candidates   

Source: Encarta Dictionary


1. the state of not having enough money to take care of basic needs such as food, clothing, and housing

2. a deficiency or lack of something

3. lack of soil fertility or nutrients

Source: Encarta Dictionary North America

Public Works Programs:

Government-funded projects to build public facilities; central to President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal job programs.


Public Works Art Project (PWAP):

This program was designed to employ artists under the New Deal program. It was the first of such programs (1933-34), headed by Edward Bruce under the U.S. Treasury Department and paid for by the CWA Civil Works Administration.

 Source: Wikipedia


Emotional or physical response.

Source: Encarta Dictionary North America

Resettlement Administration (RA):

(1935-42)  An agency to help relocate urban and rural families that were struggling into federally planned communities. One of the communities is Greenhills, Ohio just outside of Cininnati, Ohio. This administration funded a photography project documenting rural poverty. Many of these images are now available at the Library of Congress: 

Rivera, Diego: 

Cubist painter and muralist Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato, Mexico in 1886.  While the majority of his life and work centered around Mexico, Rivera also traveled to the Untied States, most notably in the early 1930s when he completed several fresco paintings.  Rivera influenced contemporary American artists such as George Biddle and Lucienne Bloch with his radical political and artistic ideas.  Rivera is also remembered for his two marriages to artist Frida Kahlo.

Sources:  Pohl 22, 40 Rivera


Person’s position, function and/or responsibility.

Rural Electrification Administration (REA): 

This organization was established in 1930 and worked to bring electricity to rural areas, which previously had none due to the unwillingness of power companies to serve farm areas. By 1939 the REA served 288,000 households with electricity.  The organization continues today as the RUS Rural Utilities Service.


Section of Painting and Sculpture(SPS):

Later known as the Section of Fine Arts (SFA), in the Treasury

Another division of the Treasury Department, it was comprised of paid artists who produced more than 108,000 easel paintings, 17,000 sculptures, 11,000 print designs, and 2,500 murals. In addition SPS operated over 100 Community Art Centers.  It operated from October 1934 through June 1943.



The practice of keeping ethnic, racial, religious, or gender groups separate especially by enforcing the use of separate schools, transportation, housing, and other facilities, and usually discriminating against a minority group

Source: Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation.
Social Issue:

Concern or problem of a specific culture or people.

Source: Encarta Dictionary North America

Société Anonyme: 

The Société Anonyme was founded in 1920 by Katherine Dreier, Marcel Duchamp, and Man Ray as an organization to support and sponsor modern art, especially abstract art.  Besides holding many lectures and concerts, and sponsoring publications, the Society held 80 art exhibitions in the 20 years following its inception.  The Society was formally closed in 1950, thirty years after its first exhibition.

Sources:  “Société Anonyme (Art)” Langa 168


A republic in northeastern Africa, the largest country of the African continent. The country’s north and south stand in stark contrast to one another: The dry, desert north is populated largely by Arab Muslims, while the wet, swampy south is populated by black African Christians and animists. The site of several powerful ancient states, Sudan was controlled by Egypt and Britain until the 20th century. An estimated 1.5 million Sudanese people died in a long and brutal civil war between the north and south, lasting from 1983 to 2004. Another 200,000 people were believed to have been killed during a conflict in the Darfūr region from 2001 to 2006.                                                               
Source: Encarta Encyclopedia North America


Something that represents something else, sign with specific meaning.

Source: Encarta Dictionary North America


The artistic method of revealing ideas or truths through the use of symbols which can be images used as visual descriptions, similes or metaphors.

Source: Encarta Dictionary North America


Urban apartment building, item of rented property, public housing.

Source: Encarta Dictionary North America

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA):

A federally owned corporation created in 1933 to help create flood control, electricity, navigation and economic development to the area which suffered significantly during the Great Depression. The TVA includes most of Tennesse, and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virgina.



Strain, anxiety, pressure.

Source: Encarta Dictionary North America

Treasury Relief Art Project (TRAP)

Begun in the spring of 1935 with a grant from the Works Progress Administration, this agency was developed to help oversee the hiring of and works of artists. It was a division of the Treasury Department. The head of the organization, said "There are not enough artists on relief to do our job and maintain the quality for which we stand." The TRAP’s projects included the painting of murals in at least one post office in each state. Once publicized, a thousand artists submitted nearly 1,500 designs. Each mural was to reflect the regional attributes of the site. At first many of the TRAP artists were chosen through competitions with 1371 pieces commissioned.  Later the organization was told to choose artists from relief rolls at which time the employed artists dropped to 289.                                                                                  
Source: Adams, Don and Goldbard, Arlene  3 August, 2007


City or inner city area.

Source: Encarta Dictionary North America

Versailles Conference: 

The post-World War I conference held by the Allies in 1919 in Paris for the purpose of determining what the repercussions for Germany, who was not invited to the conference, should be.  Ultimately, Germany lost a portion of its land and territories, had its military forces decreased, and was ordered to pay significant reparations.

Source:  Wallbank 562


Rage, aggression, the use of physical force to injure somebody or damage something.

Source: Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.


A relief print made by cutting a plank-grained woodblock with knife, gouges and chisels. Wood Engraving: A relief print made by cutting an endgrain block of wood with a graver, tint tool or scorper.

Source: Walker 142


The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was a key part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, providing economic relief to American citizens during the Great Depression.  Approved in 1935, the WPA created jobs in construction and skilled labor, in addition to its cultural programs to support visual and performing arts (See FAP).

Sources:  Dijkstra 15–19, 22

   “Joy in the Great Depression”

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