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(The St. Louis Post Dispatch)

"Playing anagrams with alphabet soup"- to use Al Smith's phrase describing the host of governmental agencies customarily referred to by initials only- is no innovation thrust upon the world by the Brain Trust's cerebrations, as some critics have implied. The New Deal has its NRA, CWA, TVA, HOLC, FDIC, NLAB and many others, but government by initials is a commonplace in history, through the omission of periods may be something of an innovation.

Every citizen of ancient Rome, a writer in the New York Sun reminds, knew that S. P. Q. R. (Senatus Populusque Romanus) was the symbol of his country, until its rulers began signing themselves C. I. (Caesar Imperator), The British Empire (B. E.) is ruled by H. M, the King, whose heir is H. R. H., the Prince of Wales. Our own country is the U. S. A., ruled by the G. O. P. under whom T. R. came to the White House, now occupied by F. D. R. Our history has been enlivened by the X. Y. Z. affair, and disturbances by the A. P. A. I. W. W. and K. K. K., and we have on occasion conferred with the A. B. C. Powers (Argentine, Brazil and Chile). The U. S. N. defends our coasts, the I. C. C. fixes R. R. rates, the P. O. D. carries the U. S. M. to the R. F. D. on trains labeled M.-K.-T., S. L. & S. F. etc. We pay some of our bills C. O. D., but few of them P. D. Q.

So we have been, it seems, for a long time on a diet of alphabet soup.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The New Deal programs, usually known by their initials, were called "alphabet soup" agencies. The large number of similar titles amused and confused Americans in the 1930s and have challenged history students ever since. There were at least four agencies (FERA,CWA,CCC,WPA) operating similar programs to give relief the unemployed. There were two AAAs (Agricultural Adjustment Administrations) and two CCCs (Civilian Conservation Corps, Commodity Credit Corporation). The WPA and PWA administered similar public employment programs. This editorial in the Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette injects humor into the confusion by suggesting that "alphabet soup" is an old tradition.


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"Alphabet Soup" editorial from Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette
date   Jan 15, 1934
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   5.5"
width   3.75"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
accession #   #L08.031

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See Also...

"For the Softies" editorial from the Greenfield Recorder-Gazette newspaper reprinted from The Holyoke Transcript

"Wage and Dispute at Monroe Bridge Causes Dismissal of Score in Department" article from the Greenfield Daily Recorder newspaper

"Start New Gypsy Moth Campaign" article from Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette newspaper

"The Dilemma" political cartoon from the Daily Recorder-Gazette newspaper

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