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“Light,” Rural Electrification Administration, n.d.

The Rural Electrification Administration enhanced the lives of rural populations by supporting local efforts to produce and distribute electricity. During the New Deal era, Congress created many agencies and programs aimed at ameliorating the effects of the Depression. Such agencies employed artists to create posters like this one to advertise their work.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

“Light,” Rural Electrification Administration, n.d.

Power to the Plains

To bring electricity to America’s farmlands, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) by executive order in 1935. Nebraska Senator George W. Norris and Representative Sam Rayburn of Texas sponsored its congressional authorization in 1936. The REA provided low-interest loans to farmers’ cooperatives to electrify areas not served by utility companies, thereby extending modern conveniences to the nation’s rural population and increasing the efficiency of its farms. Active until 1994, the REA was one of the greatest achievements of the New Deal era.