Public health messaging can be a delicate task. The right poster or TV bit will grab a person's attention and spur them to change their behavior. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, in an effort to get American artists back to work in a way that benefited the rest of the nation too, the government commissioned hundreds of posters for a variety of causes, including public health messaging.
The posters were created under a program of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, the Works Progress Administration ( WPA ), which employed over 8.5 million people. Beyond employing those who designed posters, of which there are 2,000 known examples, the WPA provided lots of construction-related jobs building roads and parks.
It is estimated that the WPA poster division printed about 2 million posters, most of which were subsequently lost or destroyed. Of the remaining originals, the Library of Congress keeps the largest collection of these posters, which include a variety of PSAs covering topics ranging from warnings about dog bites to encouraging vaccinations. One poster shows a man tossing dice with the phrase, "Don't gamble with syphilis—Consult health authorities."