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Flash Exhibits in Library Special Collections

The UCLA Library Special Collections Flash Exhibit Program features in-house exhibits that are typically on display for less than two weeks.

"Situation Normal, All ... All Fouled Up!" Private Snafu: A U.S. Military Secret - On Exhibit: November 6-20, 2017

Flash Exhibit by Jane Carpenter and Octavio Olvera


Private Snafu was the title character of a series of black-and-white instructional cartoon shorts produced by Warner Brothers Cartoons for the U.S. military between 1943 and 1945 during World War IISnafu” was the creation of director Frank Capra, head of the U.S. Army Air Force First Motion Picture Unit, and the cartoon adventures of the little private--in which he did everything wrong!--were used to instruct service personnel about security, spies, booby traps, venereal diseases, and proper military protocols, and to boost troop morale.


Snafu Photo


The cartoons, written by Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, Philip D. Eastman, and Munro Leaf, and directed by prominent Hollywood animators including Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng, had such titles as “Spies,” “The Infantry Blues,” “Private Snafu vs. Malaria Mike,” and “A Lecture on Camouflage.”

The Private Snafu cartoons were considered classified documents, and the production staff had to be fingerprinted and given FBI clearance.  Artists were allowed to work on only ten cels at a time so that they wouldn’t be able to figure out the story!

All of the items on display in the case are from the collection of David Rose, Walt Disney Studio layout artist, and veteran of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War II. For more information, consult the finding aid in the Online Archive of California for the David Rose Collection of Scripts and Storyboards, 1943-1945 (Collection 1693).


Snafu Photo 3