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May 6, 1935

WPA Added to Alphabet Agency Soup

News Stories Editorials Advertising Charlottesville: A Safe Haven

In response to the May 7, 1935 creation of three New Deal agencies including the Works Progress Administration, The Daily Progress made little mention of the agency which conducted many projects in the Charlottesville area and other places throughout Virginia. The only mention of this new agency was located on the inside pages of the May 7 issue of The Daily Progress, in a small story with the headline "3 New Agencies Added To Alphabet." The story notes the creation of the DAI and ACA in addition to the WPA and emphasizes the fact that they are a part of a $4 million work program across the country. Other than this story, there is no additional mention within several months after the creation of the WPA of any of the WPA projects started in Charlottesville or any of the surrounding communities. The newspaper appears to have chosen to de-emphasize the work and projects of the WPA in the surrounding areas in Virginia.

During the time period of the creation of the WPA, there is almost no editorial space devoted to discussion of the new agency or to any of its progress in Charlottesville or the surrounding areas. Instead, the editorials focus on several scandals in the local government, as well as to a number of petty crimes which occurred at this time. But there is very little mention of editorial opinion on the WPA at all.

The advertising during this time period makes no reference to the WPA or any of its local projects, but the ads continue to reflect an emphasis on protecting one's money in local "safe" banks like the National Bank and Trust Company. There are also several other advertising campaigns geared towards citizens who have money to spend in their accounts - a series of ads for a Daily Progress cooking school for women and a large advertisement geared towards citizens looking to remodel their home at remodeling costs totaling several thousand dollars. This period of time also features one of the first beer ads in The Daily Progress - an ad for Schlitz beer, featuring the caricature of a jolly old man saying, "I wish I had known a long time ago! I've wasted years trying and trying to find the best BEER...and now I find that it was born before I was." These ads signify the first liberal shift in the alcohol advertising of the newspaper. While it would still be several more months before the appearance of ads for hard alcohol, the ads around this time were some of the first indications of a relaxing in the anti-alcohol sentiments in the Charlottesville establishment.

It is clear, through the lack of emphasis on the WPA in The Daily Progress, that the newspaper chose to downplay completely any role that the New Deal organization had in Charlottesville or Albemarle counties. Although there were several WPA projects in the area at this time, including the construction of Alderman Library, there was no mention of these things in the newspaper stories and editorials during this time period. The editors at The Daily Progress seemed to represent the conservative majority in Virginia who did not want to admit that they received agencies which they partially belittled, and condescendingly labeled, "Alphabet Agencies." By de-emphasizing the roles of these New Deal agencies in bettering even prosperous communities like Charlottesville, the relatively well-off leaders in these cities were attempting to deny that they benefited from these agencies created by the democratic national government.

Inside This Edition: Reporting on Key Dates in the Depression

October 29, 1929: Stock Market Crash March 4, 1933: FDR Innaugurated March 5, 1933: FDR declares 'bank holiday' March 9, 1933: Emergency Banking Bill passed May 12, 1933: Federal Emergency Relief Act passed December 5, 1933: Repeal of Prohibition
May 6, 1935: WPA established August 14, 1935 Social Security Act passed November 3, 1936: FDR re-elected February 3, 1937: National Guard prepared to strike workers in Flint, Michigan September 16, 1940: Selective Service Act passed December 7, 1941: Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor


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