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Products for grant FT-285679-22

Feeling History through Colonial Revival Design in the United States, 1927-1947
Katharine Wells, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Grant details:

"Indexing Whiteness to American Design" (Article)
Title: "Indexing Whiteness to American Design"
Author: Wells, K. L. H.
Abstract: This essay argues that the Index of American Design helped transform understandings of White racial identity in the United States during the second quarter of the twentieth century. In the wake of the Immigration Act of 1924, Euro-Americans were seen less as a malignant horde of separate races and more as a benign collection of ethnicities that made up a unified White or “Caucasian” race. The Index of American Design, a Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project of 1936–1942 that produced thousands of illustrations documenting decorative arts before 1900, constructed a canon of American art around these White ethnic groups. The Index excluded most objects made by Native, African, and Asian Americans and instead sought out “folk art” produced by relatively isolated or archaic groups descended from European immigrants. By celebrating the diversity of White Americans and presenting their material culture as the basis for a unified American art, the Index of American Design helped codify White racial formation and its underpinning of American national identity.
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Access Model: Subscription
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: American Art
Publisher: Smithsonian American Art Museum