• Courtesy of George Mason University Libraries Special Collections & Archives.

    More info
    Select an item:
    One-Third of a Nation production photograph
    • Date
    • January 19, 1939
    • Creator
    • Federal Theatre Project (U.S.)
    • Description
    • A group of two boys, two girls, and an older couple are seen on the set of One-Third of a Nation during the Hartford, Connecticut production. The women carry pails and the two boys are seated and play with marbles.
    • Rights
    • Public domain. There are no known restrictions.
    • Partner
    • George Mason University Libraries Special Collections & Archives

  • Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. 

    More info
    Select an item:
    Federal Theatre presents "... one-third of a nation" A living newspaper about housing made by WPA Federal Art Project, N.Y.C.
    • Date
    • [between 1936 and 1939]
    • Creator
    • Spellens, Irving, artist
    • Description
    • Poster for Federal Theatre Project presentation of "..one-third of a nation" at the Adelphi Theatre, showing drawing of urban row houses.
    • Rights
    • No known restrictions.
    • Partner
    • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

The variety of units operating in each region stands as testament to the breadth and variety of productions offered by the Federal Theatre Project. From circus to classical theater, experimental theater to musicals, there was something for everyone, young and old alike. The project’s administrators repeatedly stressed the importance of fusing entertainment with education, and encouraged innovative approaches to confronting some of the major issues affecting communities across the country.

One of the Federal Theatre Project’s most enduring innovations was the development of the Living Newspaper genre. Using headlines clipped from newspapers as inspiration, these plays dramatized contemporary social issues. Part-journalism, part-activism, and part-experimental multimedia performances, Living Newspapers directly engaged audiences with social issues of the moment. Exemplifying the genre, One-Third of a Nation takes its title from President Roosevelt’s 1937 inaugural address. Through a series of vignettes, it tackles the appalling housing conditions found in the growing inner-city slums and advocates for robust public housing legislation to deal with this crisis.