GIVE THANKS TO TED PIETSCH, GET INTO MY CAR: OR, AUTOMOBILES OF DREAMS FROM THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

•November 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

My usual route to The Wolfsonian museum was blocked this week when Miami Beach’s Convention Center Drive was closed off to local traffic as the Miami International Auto Show came to town. Outside the convention center is a miniature roller coaster-like structure designed to allow a fleet of Jeeps to demonstrate their prowess at climbing and descending the steepest of hills. Inside the convention hall are an array of automobiles, SUVs, trucks, and crossovers. This year, for the first time in the auto show’s history, the event features a unique attraction inspired by urban “street” art from the historic Wynwood District. In Cars Meet Art, famous graffiti artists have painted a variety of cars and matching murals. In Ally Auto Alley, auto show attendees will have the opportunity to paint on a virtual car, and to share their own visions via social media. Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn had the opportunity this morning to “rummage” through the Wolfsonian library’s collection of automobile-design materials with the aim of showcasing some examples of exotic car design from the mid-to-late twentieth century. Here is her report:

On any ordinary day in South Beach, cars of every origin and style zip along Washington Avenue and Ocean Drive, creating a moving tourist attraction. This week, the Miami Auto Show descends upon the city, replete with cars of cutting edge technology, out-of-this-world design, and yes, even a Maserati parade.

Photo by Charlie Romero from Roadfly.

Photo by Charlie Romero from Roadfly.

The love affair with all things automotive did not begin with the retro-psychedelic roadster shown here at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The symbiotic relationship between man, woman, and driving machine is evidenced by innovations sprung from imaginations gone by. The Theodore W. Pietsch collection, an extensive archive maintained by his son and namesake, Theodore W. Pietsch III, was gifted to The Wolfsonian-FIU. The collection features advertisements, illustrations, and sketchbooks of motor vehicles from the 1930s through the post-World War II era.

XC2010.02.20.15.008

A prolific car artist, Ted Pietsch hand drew all types and classes of luxury automobiles. This illustration, circa 1947, comes from an original sketchbook.

XC2010.02.20.15.017

This pencil drawing shows the sharp lines of the Packard dashboard. The Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit, founded in 1899, was one of the premier American luxury auto-making firms for nearly sixty years.

XC2010.02.20.16.001

This futuristic image comes from an untitled sketchbook. Pietsch labeled the car “Wraith.” While Pietsch designed cars for most American factories, his fantasy creations also extended to the international scene.

XC2010.02.20.16.006

This 1949 drawing of a “Ghost” almost begs for a place at the 2014 Miami Auto Show.

XC2010.02.20.21.006

This pastel of a Plymouth shows a sportier side of the brand.

XC2010.03.6.1.094.000

A 1945 pencil outline expresses the generous size and comfort of the Chrysler, without sacrificing artistic elements of the outer form.

XC2010.03.6.1.355.000

This low-profile convertible was designed for Mercedes-Benz in 1943. A lull in production for the brand occurred around this time until after the Second World War.

XC2010.03.6.3.008.000

Dated 1950, the “Banshee” is a hard-topped two-door roadster, poised to race.

XC2010.03.6.3.007.000

The huge shadow cast by this 1946 orange four-door sedan indicates its significant breadth and girth. Its pointed tail lights and column support between roof and rear hatch give it a futuristic flair.

XC2010.03.6.2.1419.000

Aerodynamic construction required careful measurements. Pietsch drew this top-diagonal front and side view of an experimental design with aerodynamic rear wheel wells, rear fin, and bulbous glass top on a grid.

XC2010.03.6.1.618.000

These views of a racecar are drawn to scale.

XC2010.03.6.2.144.000

Pietsch also sketched car ornaments. In 1940, the Studebaker was still a hallmark of automobile quality and reliability.

XC2010.09.5.35.006

The Theodore W. Pietsch collection also contains promotional materials and advertisements. This cross section is of the Auburn Twelve Salon Chassis, circa 1935.

XC2010.09.5.22.000

The La Salle of the day, as seen in GMC’s customer brochure.

XC2010.09.5.23.003

The brand new Graham shows an elegant couple enjoying the ride.

TD1990.64.1.000

An earlier image of the Buick keeps with the theme of fun for the two of you.

To see more original sketches and rare brochures and advertisements from the Theodore W. Pietsch collection, (a gift facilitated by our generous Wolfsonian-FIU library donor Frederic A. Sharf), peruse our digital catalog online or visit us on 10th Street and Washington Avenue, on your way to the Miami Auto Show. Once upon a time, the Wolfsonian-FIU building actually stored marvelous antique cars on the 3rd floor, where the library is today. But that is another story …

WAR, LA GUERRE, 戦争, AND MORE WAR! THREE FIU VISITS, A NEW RESEARCH FELLOW, AND PROMISED GIFTS COME TO THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY

•November 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Over the course of the last three days, the Wolfsonian-FIU librarians provided three lectures and displays of materials dealing with the propaganda of the First and Second World Wars; heard the introductory presentation of our newest scholar-in-residence, Phillip Hu, here conducting research on our holdings of rare Russo-Japanese and Sino-Japanese war books and ephemera; and picked up some promised gifts (also documenting the two world wars) from the docks at Port Everglades.

The first Florida International University field trip had been arranged by Amanda Snyder, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Historical Writing. Her history class has been discussing the use of propaganda during the Great War (and its sequel) and she arranged a visit to the museum library Thursday afternoon in order to have them directly engage with some of our visual primary source materials, a particular strength of our collection.

DSC00481

Photo 1

As we have been preparing for our next library exhibit on children and propaganda from the First World War, the students had the opportunity to get a “sneak peek” at some of the items selected by other FIU student curators. The library holds a significant collection of children’s books, puzzles, games, and postcards published during the Great War. Some vilify the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, or more generally excoriate the German invaders and occupiers of neutral Belgium.

WC2004.02.6.10

WC2006.5.10.79_001

WC2006.5.10.79_006

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. PROMISED GIFTS

Another two books in the collection alternatively justify or condemn the Italians for “reneging” on her alliance to the Central Powers and joining instead the allies in return for promises of the Austrian provinces of Trento and Trieste at the war’s end.

WC2002.03.18.1_001

WC2002.03.18.1_055

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. PROMISED GIFT

XC2007.03.17.9_000

XC2007.03.17.9_008

XC2007.03.17.9_016

GIFT OF PAMELA K. HARER

These were supplemented with Second World War propaganda, much of it produced under the auspices of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana. After the Allied forces invaded Sicily in July 1943, King Victor Emmanuel III dismissed and had Mussolini arrested; Il Duce was afterwards rescued by his Nazi allies and brought to Salò where they established the German-dominated puppet state. This revivified Fascist regime continued to fight to maintain control over the Northern provinces, publishing vitriolic anti-Bolshevik, anti-British, anti-American, and anti-Semitic propaganda in a desperate attempt to frighten Italians into continuing to contest the Allied “invaders.”

XB1998.20.17.001

XB1998.20.16

XB1998.20.19.001

XB1998.20.21.2.000

XB1992.2390.000

Much of the propaganda (including posters from the Works on Paper department) used religious themes and imagery as well as racist stereotypes when depicting enemy troops.

XB1998.20.60.3.000

TD1989_322_1

XB1992_414_000

XB1998.20.1.000

XX1990_1812

The following day, we hosted two visits by FIU students: first, FIU’s Senior French Instructor and French Program Coordinator, Dr. María Antonieta García brought a group of students to the museum library to look at some French materials dating from the unfortunate period of the German occupation during the Second World War.

CAM01282

XC1993_18_000

Our library has important holdings of propaganda produced by the Vichy regime (which collaborated with the Nazis) as well as some materials about the resistance.

WC2012.04.8.34_000

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. PROMISED GIFT

XC1994.4289

XC2007.03.17.3_000

GIFT OF PAMELA K. HARER

While presenting these materials to the faculty and student visitors, I was not on hand to greet our newest researcher, Philip K. Hu, who began his residential fellowship this same morning. Fortunately, Sharf Associate Librarian, Rochelle Pienn, who oversees our extensive holdings of materials on the Far East, was able to attend his introductory talk. Here is her report and a few images from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection which this scholar will be using:

The Wolfsonian-FIU Library welcomed our new fellow in residence today. Philip K. Hu is an Associate Curator of Asian Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum, where he oversees a vast objects collection consisting of Asian textiles, paintings, ceramics, and other treasures. I gave Mr. Hu a brief introduction and tour of the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection last year. He was excited to learn that the content of the materials were particularly strong in his areas of research interest, which include the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, and Japanese propaganda during the Meiji period (1868-1912). During his fellowship, Mr. Hu will explore original photograph albums visually documenting personal accounts of this progressive time in Japanese culture. The discoveries Mr. Hu makes in the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection will help enhance his intended 2016 Japanese Art exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

XC2010.08.1.913_000

XC2009.10.20.49.000

XC2010.08.1.554_000

XC2009.10.20.28.000

GIFTS OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Almost as soon as I had cleared away the display of French World War Two materials, I had to set out materials for another group of FIU students interested in another aspect of that conflict: the war for the art and soul of Europe.

20141107_131604

20141107_131619

On Thursday, November 6th, the FIU Student Government Association sponsored a lecture by Robert Edsel, author of the best-selling book, Monuments Men, recently brought to the silver screen by actor/director George Clooney.

As the film deals with issues of art and preservation and the Nazi “rape of Europa,” I decided to lay out some of our rare library materials focusing on artwork championed as good German art, and that denigrated as “degenerate” art by the Nazi regime. As a young man, Adolf Hitler dreamed of becoming a great artist. His aquarelles (or watercolors) dating from the period of the First World War do show his promise as an artist, but also reveal his prejudices, obsessions, and limitations. The watercolors are romanticized depictions of bombed out buildings and ruins from the war, and invariably leave out human figures.

20141108_173601

20141108_173513

After the art school dropout rose to power in Germany, he reinvented himself as a great patron of the arts, and, ironically, became the subject of “patriotic” German artists.

XB1990.2298.001

Hitler used his position as der Führer to define for the German people what constituted good, German art (art in a romantic, idealized, or classical vein), and what would be reviled as “degenerate” art (expressionist, abstract, or Modern art) to be purged from the Fatherland.

XB1990.2298.017

20141108_173527

TD1989.252.7_189

To reinforce the regime’s artistic dictates, Hitler and his cultural authorities organized public exhibitions in Munich ridiculing “Degenerate art” and others celebrating “Great German Art” that continued well into the war years.

XM1999_120_3

XM1999_120_4

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. LONG-TERM LOAN

XB1990_2297_000

In a book titled: Deutsche Kunst und entartete “Kunst” (German Art and Degenerate “Art”), the Nazis made their artistic pronouncements explicit by pairing examples of decadent and good folk art.

84.2.238.3

84.2.238.4

There were very few German artists who dared defy the regime’s cultural policies: one such courageous soul was Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945), a painter, graphic artist, and sculptor who had lost her youngest son during the Great War. Her etchings, woodcuts, and lithograph prints reflected her passionate commitment to Socialism and pacifism. While Nazi authorities forced her to resign from the faculty of the Akademie der Künste in 1933 and the Gestapo threatened her with arrest and deportation to a concentration camp in 1936, her international notoriety kept them from acting on those threats.

20141107_131649

After dealing with so much war material over the last two days, I had the chance to review today some new materials that arrived “just off the boat” today when museum founder Mitchell Wolfson Jr. arrived in Port Everglades with several trunks full of promised gifts. I took a couple of quick snaps of a few of those items which might seamlessly have been integrated into the earlier displays had they arrived but a few days earlier.

20141108_110150

20141108_115909

20141108_114619

20141108_120145

PROMISED GIFTS OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

HALLOWEEN, WOLFSONIAN-STYLE: DR. CALIGARI, NOSFERATU, AND THE HORRORS OF THE “GREAT WAR”

•October 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This last evening, The Wolfsonian screened two silent horror classics of the post-World War era: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari directed by Robert Wiene (1921) and Nosferatu (1922).

Caligari2

 Nosferatu-3

As I frequently teach a film and history course at Florida International University, I had been asked to introduce these German expressionist films in the context of the “Great War” and its denouement. I am currently teaching a course on the First World War at the university and have been immersed in the history of this era. Reviewing the films in this context had permitted me to see them through the eyes of those who had lived through those dark times. I thought that I might share with my readers some of those observations.

I had always admired the incredible German expressionist and Cubist influenced set designs of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. But in re-viewing the film and thinking about its historical context, I found myself drawn especially to the faces of the actors as well as the dramatic sets.

Caligari Poster

The film begins with Francis, a sickly and agitated young man, recounting the traumatic experiences that have brought him to his present state. Francis resembles the tens of thousands of young men who returned from the war suffering from “war neurosis.” Another character, Dr. Caligari’s somnambulist puppet, Cesare, is even more pallid and sickly in appearance and resembles a more severe case of “shell-shock”—a living zombie.

Caligari4

Lynd Ward, an American artist visiting Germany at the time of the film’s release was doubtlessly influenced by the German expressionist film, as can be seen in his first graphic novel, God’s Man.

XB1990.535_141

In the atmosphere of disillusionment that followed Germany’s defeat in the Great War, expressionist artists and bitter social critics like Georg Grosz (1893-1959) railed against the “Moloch of Militarism.” Grosz, for example, produced disturbing works that focused on the hideously disfigured soldiers and shell-shocked veterans of the war.

83.3.93.9_008[1]

83.3.93.9_023[1]

83.3.93.9_030[1]

The millions of young Germans who had been conscripted to fight in the Great War had no other choice but to kill under the orders of the older Junker-class military officers. Similarly in the film, the twenty-three year old somnambulist, Cesare, has no will of his own and carries out the murderous orders of the puppet master, Dr. Caligari, depicted as a shadowy and sinister old man in a top hat.

Caligari3

The plot begins with Francis and his friend Alan entering Caligari’s mysterious exhibit set up in a tent at an annual fair in Holstenwall. Alan, a young man obsessed with knowing his fate, asks the somnambulist-oracle how long he has to live and is told “Till dawn.” During the Great War, dawn was the time of day typically chosen for the suicidal attacks launched against enemy trenches. Hearing this ill tiding, the young man’s face contorts into a range of expressions that mirror those of shell-shocked soldiers: stunned disbelief, maniacal laughter, and a vacant stare as he struggles to come to grips with the horror of the pronouncement.

Caligari5

Just as the young men recruited and drafted into military service in the Great War were expected to kill other young men without remorse, Dr. Caligari’s hypnotized automaton has no compunctions killing Alan to fulfill his own prophesy. But when Caligari orders Cesare to kill Francis’s fiancée, Jane, the somnambulist wavers. It seems as if he, like the soldiers who were encouraged by propaganda posters to imagine themselves as the defenders of women and children, was unable to transgress that moral code.

3g11600v

IMAGE COURTESY OF LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Instead, Cesare kidnaps and carries his intended victim through a surreal trench-like landscape past defoliated trees that resemble barbed wire.

Caligari6

The sets of the film’s twisted world were designed by Hermann Warm and show the influence of Cubism, Expressionism, and wartime experiments with camouflage. Many appear to depict shell bursts.

dr-caligari

According to Anton Kaes, author of Shell Shock Cinema: Weimar Culture and the Wounds of War, the shadowy showman, Dr. Caligari was modeled after Jean-Martin Charcot, a famous Parisian psychiatrist.

CHARCOT-Jean-Martin dr-caligari-shadow

Charcot was known for employing hypnosis on his psychiatric patients during his medical training sessions.

Une_leçon_clinique_à_la_Salpêtrière

Une leçon clinique à la Salpêtrière / Andre Brouillet (1886)

According to Kaes, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was intended to be a scathing indictment of those psychiatrists who, under pressure from the military command during the war, dismissed the reality of “shell shock,” employed electric shocks to cure “war neurosis,” and used threats of torture to frighten “fakers” back to active duty on the front.

Caligari7

Ultimately, the audience is left to wonder if they can trust their traumatized narrator. Is Dr. Caligari a murderous showman and charlatan? A war psychiatry criminal? The mad director of an insane asylum? Or a benign and well-intentioned psychiatrist interested in curing an insane patient?

Caligari

Caligari8

Director F. W. Nurnau’s Nosferatu, released in 1922, also had much to say about the blood-letting of the Great War and the global influenza pandemic that brought about the armistice on November 11, 1918. This film, too, is set in a film noir world of darkness and shadow.

 Nosferatu-4

Unlike the surreal landscape of Dr. Caligari, the sets of Nosferatu are realistic. The plot begins with an old and creepy estate agent in Wisbourg, Germany convincing his young employee, Hutter, to travel to Transylvania to sell Count Orlok an abandoned house. Seen from the perspective of the prison-like window panes of Hutter’s own home, the dark windows and façade of the deserted building across the street resembles tombstones interspersed with crosses—reminders of war and death.

Nosferatu-2

Not unlike the millions of young men who eagerly volunteered when war was declared, young Hutter readily agrees to do his master’s bidding. He is happy to embark on the venture to a foreign land, even if in doing so he will have to abandon his marriage bed, and despite a warning that it might cost him “some pain” and a “little blood.”

Nosferatu1

In pursuit of his master’s business, Hutter encounters the vampire—depicted in the film as a deathly ghoulish figure rather than as the suave and seductive lady’s man made famous by Hungarian-American actor, Bela Lugosi in the 1930s.

Nosferatu-3

In what appears superficially to be a medieval reference and motif, death accompanies the vampire in the form of a plague of rats.

Nosferatu-5-rats Nosferatu-6-rats-log

For veterans and survivors of the Great War, however, the rats would have had a more immediate and visceral association coming from the horrific conditions of trench warfare. Rats so infested the trenches of the combatants on the Western front, that rat hunts were regularly organized to deal with the vermin.

Terrier German rat hunt

(LEFT) RESULTS OF A TERRIER’S FIFTEEN MINUTE HUNT IN THE FRENCH TRENCHES; (RIGHT) RESULTS OF A GERMAN RAT HUNT

William Smithson Broadhead (1888-1960), a British war artist, included the following sketch in a letter he penned to his parents dated April 1, 1916:

There’s one thing I strongly object to & that is the plague of rats here. At night they run about in regiments. A night never passes without my being awakened by one either running across my head or jumping onto my body. They are such big bounders too…I think the plague is caused by the fact that there are hundred[s] of dead still unburied not many miles from here and another thing which encourages them is the habit of the French soldiers throwing their rubbish & refuge about! We always bury ours.

Broadhead_rats

Courtesy of: http://shefflibraries.blogspot.com/2014/08/hoof-prints-over-western-front-world.html

As disturbing as the nightly gymnastics of Broadhead’s trench rats must have been, it was nothing compared to the horrors of seeing them feasting on the dead and dying.

mp2013.55.2_012 mp2013.55.2_015

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. PRIVATE COLLECTION

One book published in 1920 shows the terrifying realities soldiers suffered and endured as they lived and died among the rats.

mp2013.55.2_022

mp2013.55.2_025

mp2013.55.2_037

mp2013.55.2_038

mp2013.55.2_036

mp2013.55.2_032

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. PRIVATE COLLECTION

Other artists remembering the Great War also gruesomely portrayed the horror of rats feasting on fallen soldiers.

WC2002.5.3.7_007_2

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. PROMISED GIFT

An anti-German watercolor by G. Pretty dated 1916 does not paint a pretty picture of Prussian militarism and Kultur.

WC2005.10.5.5_1916_Kultur_watercolor_by_G._Pretty

A close-up of a detail of the painting reveals the ape-like German soldiers traveling with a pack of rats, one of whom menaces a broken doll.

WC2005.10.5.5_detail

In Nosferatu it is not the vampire, Count Orlok, but the plague that depopulates the village of the protagonists.

Nosferatu-7-plague

The audience witnesses (through a peephole and barred window) a procession of coffins passing through the empty street.

Nosferatu-8-coffins

This also would have resonated with the post-war audience as the Spanish influenza pandemic hit in the last year of the war.

XM2000.51.2

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. LONG-TERM LOAN

Infecting one-fifth of the world’s population, the highly contagious influenza epidemic claimed the lives of 30-60 million victims—the majority between the ages of 20 and 40 dying within mere hours of contracting the virus! By way of comparison, the Great War claimed the lives of 10 million combatants (2 million of who succumbed to disease) and another 7 million civilians; some 20 million more were left alive but seriously wounded. A total of 675,000 Americans perished in the flu pandemic; nearly half of U.S. servicemen who died during the war fell to the flu rather than in combat.

1918_flu_outbreak_RedCrossLitterCarriersSpanishFluWashingtonDC

“Demonstration at the Red Cross Emergency Ambulance Station in Washington, D.C., during the influenza pandemic of 1918.”—National Photo Co., via the Library of Congress website

iowa_flu2

Courtesy of http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/1918/the_pandemic/iowa_flu2.jpg

It is not coincidence that the influenza epidemic hit its deadliest spike just one month before the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. The pandemic had left too many soldiers weakened, sick, or dying to continue the bloody conflict!

warpostersissued00hard_0121[1]

 

 

It’s The Great War, Charlie Brown, or: First World War Images from the Wolfsonian-FIU Library

•October 22, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Today’s blog post comes to you courtesy of Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn. Ms. Pienn works exclusively on the extensive collection of rare books, photograph albums, journals, diaries, and other materials donated to The Wolfsonian-FIU library by Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf. These primary source materials provide an intimate glimpse into the lives of soldiers and sailors participating in the many colonial expeditions, wars, and conflicts of  the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Ms. Pienn’s post today focuses on a rare “picture” book utilizing the photographic rotogravure process to present the public with glimpses of the European war their own American Expeditionary Force troops would be entering in 1917. Here is her report:

Most Americans of my generation grew up watching Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” cartoon characters philosophize their way through the major holidays in animated television specials. As the calendar creeps closer to Halloween, I’m reminded of how Linus waited for the Great Pumpkin overnight, only to be frightened into a faint by Snoopy in his “World War One flying ace” Halloween costume.

 WWI-Ace

Copyright 1966 Charles M. Schulz

I would hazard to say that at five years old, Charlie Brown’s famous dog dressed up as the decimator of the German Red Baron was my initial induction into any kind of history on the subject. While cartoonist Charles M. “Sparky” Schulz provided an adoring public with a legacy of family TV and newspaper comic strips, it is necessary to go back in time to find serious news photographs and commentary contemporary to the First World War. The Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at The Wolfsonian contains a comprehensive Portfolio of the World War produced by The New York Times in 1917.

XC2009.10.20.34_001

The photographic images in this striking portfolio were reproduced using the rotogravure printing method.

 XC2009.10.20.34_002

The use of airplane aviation on a large military scale premiered during the Great War. When the U.S. became involved in the war, cadets were trained to fly.

 XC2009.10.20.34_005

 This illustration indicates the imposing nature of the German bombers.

 XC2009.10.20.34_004

Reporting covered everything from fighting machines, foreign dignitaries, and frontline warfare, to medical care, human interest, and gender roles. These photographs emphasize the official roles of women in the British and American armies.

 XC2009.10.20.34_007

Manfred von Richthofen (the real Red Baron) perished near the Somme River in France during an attack by Canadian fighters. This image shows Canadian soldiers on the front in good spirits, “despite war’s grim realities.”

 XC2009.10.20.34_008 (2)

War affected industry and trade throughout the world. Thousands of hungry French troops necessitated a steady supply of food; here, Moroccan hogs are transported across the Mediterranean, presumably to become future bacon rations.

 XC2009.10.20.34_009 (2)

Nations all over Europe lived in uncertainty. Switzerland struggled to protect its neutrality; its army was not untouched by the immediate threat of the War.

 XC2009.10.20.34_010

Other new technological dangers of war included German gas attacks. American cavalry, along with their horses, needed protective gear.

 XC2009.10.20.34_011

XC2009.10.20.34_011

The material destruction of war is darkly evident in this capture of a battle’s aftermath.

 XC2009.10.20.34_012

While “Rosie the Riveter” represented the women factory workers during the Second World War, women clearly took on many similar tasks on assembly lines during the Great War.

 XC2009.10.20.34_014

War photographers also shot non-combat outtakes of soldiers, such as these comical pictures of men attempting to bathe on the front.

XC2009.10.20.34_003

The First World War wrought havoc on many countries. Czar Nicholas II of Russia entered the war with questionable resources along with the growing resentment of the Russian population. Below is one of the last photographs taken of him after his abdication of the throne. A year later, he and his entire family would be assassinated by the Bolsheviks.

 XC2009.10.20.34_006

This map shows the vast territories affected during the First World War. By land, sea, and air, armies and navies clashed for dominance, territorial rights, and self-determination.

XC2009.10.20.34_015

The First World War resulted in new sets of borders, changing leadership, and shifting politics. Peace would be the tenuous shroud of a battle-weary populace. One hundred years ago, it was referred to as the “Great War,” with no premonition of what the future held. To further commemorate the centennial of the First World War, we invite you to visit the Wolfsonian-FIU library and explore our rich archives.

WE DID RETURN: MEL VICTOR’S WWII PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE PHILIPPINES AT THE WOLFSONIAN

•October 21, 2014 • 1 Comment

Yesterday marked the seventieth-year anniversary of General Douglas MacArthur’s historic walk through the surf on Leyte Island, marking the return of American troops to the Philippine soil–”soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples” as the general addressed U.S. servicemen by radio. MacArthur had been ordered by President Roosevelt to evacuate from the Philippines, and had made his famous vow “I shall return.”

General MacArthur’s landing in Leyte inspired Filipino resistance fighters and U.S. soldiers that the tide was turning in the Pacific. But MacArthur’s landing and radio address was only a symbolic victory, and one that would be followed by a desperate and bloody struggle to liberate and take the Philippines back from the Japanese occupiers and the powerful Imperial Japanese Navy that still dominated the seas around the islands. Thanks to the generosity of Donna Victor, I can share with you today some images of that ferocious fight in the Philippines taken by her father, Melvin Victor, an official war photographer.

XC2014.05.9.1_000

Mel Victor’s photographs document just how hard-won the battle for the Philippines would be. Some of his aerial photographs of Leyte Island show deceptively peaceful and idyllic views of the island immediately adjacent to rows of U.S. landing craft delivering military equipment and supplies to support the U.S. liberators.

XC2014.05.9.40_000

XC2014.05.9.38_000

Other photographs from the Mel Victor WWII Pacific Theater Collection show some of the strafing and bombing runs made in the Gulf of Leyte against the Japanese Navy prowling the waters adjacent to the Philippines.

XC2014.05.9.42_000

XC2014.05.9.7_000

XC2014.05.9.8_000

One of the most famous of the Victor photographs taken during the war was one showing a “Jap destroyer” or frigate “sunk in the S. China Sea.” What makes the image so compelling is its capture of the human dimension of the life and death struggle in the Pacific.

XC2014.05.9.12_000

Liberation of the Philippines came with a hefty price tag. The month-long battle for the Philippine capital  in February 1945, involved some of the worst urban combat experienced in the Pacific. By the end of the battle, the U.S. Army had suffered more than 6,500 casualties, the Japanese had lost more than 16,500, and some 100,000 Filipino civilians had been killed. Victory over the Japanese was achieved only after most of Manila–once lauded as the Pearl of the Orient)–lay in ruins.

XC2014.05.9.16_000

A series of Victor’s aerial photographs of the city provide a powerful evidence of the ferocity of the battle.

XC2014.05.9.19_000

XC2014.05.9.20_000

XC2014.05.9.26_000

In one photograph, we see the ruins of South Manila, formerly the “most beautiful section of the city.” All that is left are the charred shells of the Post Office, a large theater behind it to the left, and the remains of the City Hall to the right.

XC2014.05.9.17_000

Mel Victor survived the war and made a home, raised a family, and career for himself in Miami Beach. While he continued to work as a photographer, his post-war photos of Miami Beach beauty pageants provide a stark contrast to his earlier work capturing the horrors of the war in the Pacific.

DSC00290

DSC00291

While these latter photographs were beyond the collecting parameters of our own institution, Donna Victor found a great home for them at the Miami Beach City Hall Archive, which is preparing a new digital catalog and exhibitions designed to celebrate the city’s hundred year anniversary this coming March.

POSTERS, PICTOGRAPHS, PICTOGRAMS, AND PUBLIC HISTORY AT THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY

•October 17, 2014 • 1 Comment

Earlier this month, The Wolfsonian-FIU librarians were busy hosting two residential fellows—(Sarah Rovang and Michael Golec)—and a visit by thirteen Florida International University students enrolled in Professor Ken Lipartito’s Public History course. The confluence of scholars and students could not have been timed more fortuitously: both researchers are interested in posters, the graphic display of statistics, and other visual ephemera documenting President Franklin Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in the New Deal era; Dr. Lipartito’s students are tasked with researching a selection of materials employing pictograms and pictographs.

XC2014.03.14_001

GIFT OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

Both of our visiting scholars looked at the posters in the museum’s Works on Paper department that had been designed by Lester Beall (1903-1969) for the REA.

TD1991_174_1

TD1991_174_2

The posters employ abstract and almost pictographic images of everyday objects to convey their messages.

TD1991_174_3

TD1991_174_4

Other materials printed for the REA also made use of pictographic illustrations, including a Guide for Members of REA Cooperatives and Little Waters: A Study of Headwater Streams & Other Little Waters, Their Use and Relations to the Land.

XC2008.08.11

XC2008.08.11_020XC2008.08.11_021

GIFT OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA

Although neither publication specifically credits Lester Beall, the latter book was co-authored by Robert T. Beall—(a relative, perhaps?)—who was employed as an economist by the Rural Electrification Administration.

XC2010.10.10.1.040b

XC2010_10_10_1_012

XC2010_10_10_1_030

XC2010_10_10_1_036

GIFT OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA

FDR’s Resettlement Administration also used pictograms in some of their publications, including a book titled: Greenbelt Towns: A Demonstration in Suburban Planning printed by the U.S. Government Printing Office in 1936.

XC2014.04.4.5_013

XC2014.04.4.5_015

In 1940, the U.S. Maritime Commission produced a spiral-bound booklet making use of vivid color pictograms intended to demonstrate the need for American-flag shipping and shipbuilding.

XM1999.23.1.1

XM1999.23.1.2

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. LONG-TERM LOAN

Another booklet published in 1940 by the Council of Women for Home Missions and Missionary Education Movement, Migrants of the Crops used pictograms on the front cover. The booklet also included a foreword by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace (1888-1965), and used Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographs to argue for better working and living conditions for migrant farm workers.

WC2012.08.4.17_000

GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

Pictograms had gained an international following and popularity in the 1930s and early 1940s, and publishing houses and book designers in the United States were also using them to create easily decipherable statistical tables.

XC2010.09.7.160_000

XC2010.09.7.160_014

XC2010.09.7.160_118

XC2010.09.7.79_246

XC2010.09.7.79_090

XC2010.09.7.79_112

GIFTS OF CHRISTOPHER DENOON

Because I have been supervising another FIU project involving the cataloging and digitization of the Miami Beach City Hall Archive in preparation for the city’s centennial celebrations in March, I also showed the students some relevant materials in our own collection.

XC2003.04.3_130

Soon after the United States entered the Second World War after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, many Miami Beach hotels were converted into “barracks” and the city became a virtual training camp for Army Air Force units. Local author and historian, Judith Berson-Levinson had organized veterans’ reunions and compiled an archive of materials documenting Miami Beach in wartime, which she generously donated to the museum library nearly a decade ago. One item from the “Sand in Their Boots” collection is An Official Guide to the Army Air Forces which also uses pictograms as well.

 XC2005.03.8.63_001  XC2005.03.8.63_002

XC2005.03.8.63_003  XC2005.03.8.63_004

GIFT OF JUDITH BERSON-LEVINSON

If this small sampling of graphic statistics inspired or intrigued you, you may wish to visit our virtual library display website to see a small exhibit we put together a few years back on the subject: http://www.librarydisplays.wolfsonian.org/Statistically-Speaking/StatisticallySpeaking.htm  And stay tuned for updates on the new exhibit being planned and put together by Dr. Lipartito’s class scheduled to open at the Frost Museum on FIU’s Modesto Maidique Campus from January 22, 2015 through April 6, 2015.

WOMEN AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR: SOME ARTIFACTS FROM THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY COLLECTION

•October 3, 2014 • 1 Comment

Over the course of the last week, thirty-six Florida International University students enrolled in my War & Society history class carpooled and came in three separate groups for a library orientation and presentation of materials related to the propaganda of the First World War. The Wolfsonian holds an incredible (and growing) collection of original artwork, rare books and periodicals, and historical ephemera dating from the war years, and will be opening a major exhibition, Myth and Machine: The First World War in Visual Culture, on two floors of the museum this coming November.

87_1345_5_1

 http://www.wolfsonian.org/explore/exhibitions/myth-and-machine-first-world-war-visual-culture

My intention in bringing the students to the museum was to provide them with the opportunity to see some of the rare materials in person, and to work with them to deconstruct the visual messages imbedded in propaganda. Laid out on the tables was a wide range of ephemeral items that included original drawings and a water-color; caricatures and cartoons; broadsides; oversized portfolios; cut-out designs for “jumping jacks” puppets; propaganda books and pamphlets aimed at young and adult audiences; vintage postcards; and musical scores.

20141001_140928

20141001_140902

While we looked at a wide variety of propaganda produced by nearly all of the protagonists involved in the war, towards the latter part of the class meeting we focused more exclusively on illustrated periodicals and sheet music covers using imagery of women in the context of the Great War.

20141001_140818

As the class will soon be reading Celia Malone Kingsbury’s For Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home Front, I hoped to prepare the students for the ideas embedded in that book by having them examine similarly gender-themed materials held in our own collection.

 XB1992.5_001

 XB1992.5_000

Women have for centuries been depicted as the hapless and helpless “victims” of war. First World War propaganda was no different in conjuring up imagery designed to instill hatred for bestial “rapists” and to encourage young men to assume their “manly” duties to protect the “fairer sex” by enlisting and defeating the enemy.

 83.2.582_000

The class looked closely at some of the artwork of Italian artist, illustrator, and costume designer, Umberto Brunelleschi (1879-1949). During the war, Brunelleschi contributed illustrations to La Tradotta, a weekly newspaper published for the Italian 3rd Army.

 20141002_110731

20141002_110903

20141002_111201

 20141002_111726

 20141002_111058

In addition to a bound edition of the periodical, the Wolfsonian library also holds a series of six Brunelleschi-illustrated postcards published by La Tradotta celebrating women’s war work. Italian men were generally very socially conservative in this period, and most undoubtedly viewed women assuming jobs traditionally held by men with ambivalent feelings. The images of gorgeously attired women serving as porters, postmen, street sweepers, and coach and trolley conductors in the postcards were designed to reassure soldiers fighting at the front that their wives and sweethearts were in no way losing their femininity in temporarily taking on these jobs. The popular cards also served as “pin-up” art for lonely soldiers who might be spending years on the front lines deprived of female companionship.

 XB1992.349.1_000

 XB1992.349.3_000

 XB1992.349.2_000

 XB1992.349.4_000

I was particularly intrigued by Brunelleschi’s depiction of a female barber.

 XB1992.349.5_000

The woman on the postcard is pictured wearing an elegant gown as she sharpens a straight razor. (Shaving took on great importance during the war as soldiers on the front needed to don gas masks!) The expression on the face of the lathered-up man in the barber’s chair seen in the shop mirror is one of extreme terror. The humorous card was doubtlessly designed to capture the sense of male anxiety in the first decades of the twentieth century. Not only had a feminist and militant suffragette movement arisen demanding the right to vote, but with so many men diverted to the front lines in the war years, women were being encouraged to “take over” their jobs on the home front. The male figure in the card appears to be suffering an extreme case of emasculation or castration anxiety. German men must also have been feeling similarly anxious over women assuming traditionally male roles and professions, as indicated by the inclusion of this humorous illustration in Kriegs-album der Lustige Blätter.

 20141001_140840

Even after a German U-Boat sank the British passenger ship, the Lusitania on May 7, 1915 with great loss of innocent life, President Woodrow Wilson maintained a neutral course for the United States.

86.19.425

XC2014.09.4.162_000

GIFT OF THOMAS C. RAGAN

Sheet music covers from 1915 reflect America’s conflicted feelings about the war, with some depicting American mothers adopting a firm anti-interventionist stance.

XC2009.12.5.24_001

 XC2005.03.2.1_001

After President Wilson delivered his “too proud to fight” speech on May 10th, 1915, former President Theodore Roosevelt attacked Wilson in the press and berated his pacifism as unmanly and un-American in the face of German atrocities in Belgium and on the high seas. When America did enter the war in 1917, American mothers—at least those depicted on sheet music covers—did an about-face, considering it their patriotic duty to send their sons off to war.

XC2003.03.7.9_001

 XC2005.03.2.3_001

 20140910_094238

GIFT OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

Images of mothers and children were also used as cover art on popular musical scores.

XC2005.03.2.5_001

XC2003.03.7.21_001

XC2005.03.3.10_001

The Delineator, a magazine published for a female readership, also used cover illustrations designed to instill patriotism. Articles between the covers were also written to remind the folks back home that the American Expeditionary Force was fighting overseas in defense of their families, and to encourage women to do their part on the home front.

XC2012.03.8_000

XC2014.08.12_000

GIFTS OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

A poster aimed at recruiting African-Americans eschewed the all-too common stereotypes of the era and depicted a middle class family in front of the hearth fire in a very wholesome Norman Rockwell-esque manner.

XC1995.427.8.000

Neighbors would have known that the missing family patriarch—(pictured in uniform in a framed photograph above the fireplace)—is doing his patriotic duty by the inclusion of a starred service flag hanging proudly in the window.

Younger (and seemingly single) women were pictured on patriotic sheet music covers as a means of encouraging young men to enlist. Much like the 1917 Navy recruiting poster by artist Howard Chandler Christy, one such musical score depicts a pretty girl in a sailor suit with the less-than-subtle message that every girl adores a man in uniform.

h63193a

 XC2014.08.11.1_001

GIFT OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

Other sheet music covers picture young women serving as “surrogate mothers” in nursing uniforms providing comfort (and perhaps something other than maternal love) to wounded soldiers.

20140923_135059

XC2013.01.9.3_001

20140826_111307

GIFTS OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

A final set of music scores use illustrations of attractive French women on the covers to imply that American doughboys sailing overseas might find opportunities for love and romance as well as heroism.

XC2003.03.7.4_001

XC2014.08.3.3_001

XC2014.08.3.1_001

XC2014.08.7_001

GIFTS OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

In addition to using a red, white, and blue color palette on the cover (echoing the colors of the flags of both France and the United States), the lyrics of the last musical score suggested that American soldiers might even bring home a medal of honor, but also a French war bride!

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 168 other followers