Dave Nelson


In April 1940, Life magazine's cover story on "Government and Youth" updated an article the magazine had published on the youth problem in 1936. The cover featured a photograph of Mabel Sealey, an enrollee at Camp Roosevelt, a National Youth Administration (NYA) resident project in Ocala, Florida. The accompanying article, presented the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as boys' work relief, while the NYA provided relief for girls.1 In the gendered language of the narrative and the photographic images, the masculine CCC project accomplished important work such as fire fighting and tree planting, while teaching its enrollees military discipline and job skills. The same article presented the NYA as overtly feminine, with photographs of girls setting tables, playing volleyball, and milling about camp. The cover, a portrait of a pretty young woman sitting in the grass, a Valentine pin attached to her sweater, drove home the point that relief work for girls upheld social values expressed in femininity and traditional female roles associated with marriage and family.