From the Archives: WPA Charles Dickens Figurines

Photo of the 7 ceramic WPA Charles Dickens figurines in a box.
These figurines are carefully preserved in the BPL Archives. Photo by Jim Baggett.

Among the millions of papers and photographs preserved in the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Archives and Manuscripts Department, there are other historic artifacts that are less expected.

Some of these unique finds include seven ceramic figurines, each measuring about five inches tall and representing characters from the novels of Charles Dickens.

You can find these figurines in the Archives:

Close up photo of Tiny Time, Bob Crachet, and Scrooge figurines.

Loveable Tiny Tim, faithful Bob Cratchit, and mean old Scrooge. Photo by Jim Baggett.

Created by artists and artisans working for the Alabama Visual Education Project, a program of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression, teachers and librarians used the figurines to illustrate stories for children.

The WPA is usually associated with workers who built parks, bridges, and roads.

But the WPA also employed artists, writers, actors, and millions of people who simply needed work to create public art and educational tools, like these Dickens figurines.

The Alabama Visual Education Project WPA logo on the bottom of the figurines.
The Alabama Visual Education Project stamp is found on the base of each figurine. Photo by Jim Baggett.

Women employed by the Visual Education Project produced dolls, models of the human body, models of plants and flowers, paintings of leaves, flags, and animals, all for educational purposes. The items were sold to schools for the cost of the materials or donated to libraries.

And you can see these figures from the Great Depression in the Archives today. Call 205-226-3630 to schedule an appointment to visit the Archives Department!

Follow the BPL on Facebook (Meta), Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn for more updates like these. 

By Jim Baggett | Department Head, Archives Department