Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Fine Arts

Committee Chair

Morgan, Will

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Buser, Thomas

Committee Member

Buser, Thomas

Committee Member

Covi, Dario

Committee Member

Kloner, Jay

Committee Member

Rickey, Mary Ellen

Committee Member

Grubola, James T.


Federal Art Project; Post office buildings--Kentucky; Painting, American--Kentucky; Painting, American; Post office buildings; Kentucky; Academic theses.


This dissertation takes a primarily art historical approach to the murals commissioned from 1934 to 1943 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. This study is confined to the post office murals created for the Commonwealth of Kentucky under the United states Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts. Many of these paintings were lost or deliberately destroyed when the program was dismantled. Today most of the remaining murals are dirty and· faded and little noticed. Many of the artists have been forgotten. During the Depression years, however, these paintings contributed to local pride, optimism for the future, stronger patriotism, and a sense of community. Since then, the murals have been ignored or denigrated as inferior examples of painting. My thesis is that the murals do have artistic significance. Almost every muralist whose work is still in a Kentucky post office had a solid academic training, many of them in Paris, and a good grasp of the fundamentals of painting. Their work is well worth stylistic analysis and preservation as part of our American heritage.