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.

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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.

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

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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.

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 This illustration indicates the imposing nature of the German bombers.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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GIFT OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

SOME RECENT ADDITIONS TO THE THOMAS RAGAN COLLECTION OF OCEAN LINER MATERIALS AT THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY

•September 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Today’s blog post comes to you courtesy of Library Assistant Michel Potop. Mr. Potop has a background and interest in maritime and naval history and has been working to process and catalog a recently arrived shipment of ocean liner books donated to our collection by Thomas Ragan. Here is his report:

Thanks to another significant contribution of reference and rare materials made by our generous patron, Thomas C. Ragan to The Wolfsonian-FIU, the library now enjoys an even greater collection of holdings related to cruise lines and maritime culture in Europe and the Americas.

This post will look at two of the Ragan donations: one, an American children’s book; the other, a Dutch sticker book.

The first book looks at the way the naval history and traditions of the Merchant Marine traditions were presented to children and young adult readers. Between the late 19th and early twentieth centuries, the United States Merchant Marine’s importance was frequently overshadowed by interest in the U.S.’s naval military might. Ironically, military conflict fanned a revival of the civilian navy during the First World War. During the conflict, most European merchant vessels were engaged in the war effort, and trade between the United States and Europe was negatively impacted. Because North American industries relied heavily on their trans-Atlantic trade partners for the transportation of goods, , the American economy suffered. To rectify the situation, the United States worked to encourage an enthusiasm for the development of U.S.-flag shipping and a stronger civilian Merchant Marine.

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My Book of Ships, is a children’s book published by the Saalfield Publishing Company in Akron, Ohio immediately after the First World War in 1919. Its cover depicts two young American children waving to ships. Interestingly, the ship’s sailors are guided safely through the dark clouds (of the war years?) by a lighthouse beacon topped by a cross.

In an age when more middle class American families had the means to travel, the book illustrated themes of leisure and onboard entertainment the new passenger liners.

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Other illustrations were designed to stimulate an interest in the predominantly upper-class pursuit of yacht racing.

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Children’s imagination and their curiosity was not neglected either. The mysteries surrounding such gigantic ships were skillfully described and illustrated so that even young children could understand and familiarize themselves with vessels and their protocols.

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Vivid colors were used to depict the elegant steamships and other vessels in drawings designed to captivate the attention of children.

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One such illustration depicts a bright red tugboat.

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An old-fashioned but beautiful schooner is also pictured with all her sails raised.

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Thomas Ragan’s recent gift included a sticker album as well. Titled Ocean Giants, this album was written and illustrated by G. J. Frans Naerebout, and was published sometime around 1952 by A. Hooijimer & Zonen in Barendrecht. Interestingly, even though this book was published in Netherlands and in the Dutch language, the ship selected for the cover illustration was American, and that the other ships represented inside included ships of many flags and nations.

The United States had been built with the intention of claiming the transatlantic speed record.

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In the chapter titled “Giants of the Seven Seas,” the British passenger ship Lusitania (sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915) is masterfully depicted steaming at high speed.

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Designed for collecting enthusiasts of all ages, many pages of the book left room for reader interaction, encouraging them to collect and fill the book with color stickers printed for that purpose. The stickers include images of well-known ocean liners…

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…and steamers from the famous White Star Line.

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Sticker book illustrations include a map of the routes of the steamship line companies.

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A particular favorite image of mine is this one of the pride and joy of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, (or, French Line), the Art Deco ocean liner, the Normandie.

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At a time when nationalism was rampant and the drums of war were beating, writers and illustrators managed to inspire patriotic feelings of pride for their country’s naval savoir-faire and love for the sea, without emphasizing the militaristic approach so endemic of the time.

BONNIE BITS O’ BONNIE SCOTLAND: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE HIGHLANDERS FROM THE WOLFSONIAN COLLECTION

•September 20, 2014 • 1 Comment

On account of the pending (and now decided) vote on whether to remain with or secede from the United Kingdom, Scotland has been in the news (and on my mind) quite a wee bit this past week. As it has also been a rather busy week here in The Wolfsonian-FIU library, I have not had much time to move from thinking–to blogging–about Scotland. The Wolfsonian possesses some rich collections of material both on late nineteenth and twentieth century secession movements in general, and on the Scottish nation itself. Consequently, I thought that I would take just a few minutes out of my busy schedule today to highlight some Scottish ephemera from the Wolfsonian library collection when international and empire expositions also brought Scotland into the limelight.

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GIFT OF THE SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The city of Glasgow hosted several important international, national, and imperial exhibitions in the twentieth century, and the Wolfsonian-FIU library holds a number of souvenir view books documenting those fairs.

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In 1901, Scotland organized the Glasgow International Exhibition, proudly proclaiming their important place within the Empire and United Kingdom.

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The attendance of the royals and the grandeur of the exhibition buildings and pavilions attest to Scottish pride and prestige, industrial might and wealth.

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A nighttime view of the fair included in one of the view books was intended to show off Glasgow’s technological advances as well, as the exhibition buildings radiate and glow with new electric lighting.

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Glasgow organized another slightly more modest exposition in 1911, styled the Scottish Exhibition of National History, Art and Industry. Although national rather than international in scope, the fair was intended to instill a sense of local Scottish pride and also featured a royal procession in the fair grounds on opening day and photo-opportunities for the royal party in the Palace of Art.

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Lest the good Scots forget their national honor, a letter dated October 11th, 1297 from William Wallace (of Braveheart fame) was  on display.

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In 1938, the city of Glasgow hosted the British Empire Exhibition, again demonstrating the importance of Scotland to the United Kingdom’s empire just one year prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The Wolfsonian museum and research center holds a variety of materials celebrating the fair ranging from medallions and keepsakes, newspaper clippings, cigarette card sticker books, original photographs, to postcard view books. Below are few examples from the collection.

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Although the bulk of our holdings are limited to the mid-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries, thanks to a generous donation from the San Diego Historical Society in 2008, we have a very decent collection of post-Second World War travel and tourism advertising brochures, many of which focus on Scotland.

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GIFTS OF THE SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY

 

 
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