“Locomotives” by Roy Emerson Stryker, 1942.

One of the great innovations in a sea of great things accomplished during the Franklin Roosevelt administrations was the formation of the Farm Security Administration, a division of the government established to help farmers through the devastating Dust Bowl and Great Depression.
A subset of the FSA was a photographic unit which was set up to document the progress made by the FSA (and provide, I am sure, for some much-needed good news, a hearts-and-minds campaign).
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This division was headed by Roy Emerson Stryker, who wound up with the greatest and most beautiful photographic history ever assembled in the United States.
There were about 77,000 images made, and I recall reading (somewhere) that the total budget for the Stryker group for the years 1936-1942 was about $100,000, meaning that each completed image cost just over a dollar apiece.
So far as art funding by the government is concerned, that about the best it has done.
See more at this great website via JF Ptak Science Books: PowerPunk Locomotives, in Color (1942).

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