In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • "The Fly is as Deadly as a Bomber!"

© Reproduced from the Collections of the LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

The editors chose this image because nothing says "pulic health" like a Works Progress Administration (WPA) poster. The dirt-shedding fly coming in low over an urban cityscape is intended to evoke the threat of an enemy aerial attack to a concentrated population center.

The Works Progress Administration, more popularly known as the Works Projects Administration, was established in 1935 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as part of his New Deal program in a response to the emergent crisis of the Great Depression. In July of 1935, Federal Project Number One was established within the WPA as a central administration for arts-related projects and provided support to more than five thousand artists, musicians, actors, and writers.

Initially painted and lettered individually, WPA posters were striking and beautiful, designed to publicize health and safety programs; cultural programs including art exhibitions, theatrical, and musical performances; travel and tourism; educational programs; and community activities in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. Later, artists and designers utilized silkscreening, lithographs, and woodcuts to mass produce WPA posters across the nation.

New Deal administrators believed that art could enrich the lives of all who came in contact with it, especially during times of trouble. Not only did the poster divisions succeed, but government support of the arts through the Federal Art Project gave new impetus to American artistic expression.



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