LOVE KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES: A WOLFSONIAN REFLECTION ON THE SUPREME COURT RULING ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

•June 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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CINDERELLA “THE SOPHISTICATED” DANCING WITH HER PRINCE CHARMING
(MUSIC COMPOSED BY HOLLAND ROBINSON
& ILLUSTRATIONS BY HIS LIFE PARTNER, MAC HARSHBERGER)

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling yesterday which recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry anywhere in the nation, I thought that I would provide a few images from The Wolfsonian-FIU collection to confirm the notion that love knows no bounds, even if it has taken our society some time to recognize the same.

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I thought that on this occasion, I would focus on an archive in our collection of the artwork of Frank MacCoy (“Mac”) Harshberger and his partner, the musical composer, Holland Robinson. Their life-long partnership and collaboration began in the 1920s, when the “twenty-something” friends from Tacoma, Washington went abroad after the war and became part of the expatriate American artistic clique that coalesced in “gay Paris.”

Two years of pre-med studies in the States had been enough to convince Mac that his true interest did not reside in medicine but in the fine arts, and he convinced his father to arrange for him to train in Paris in the atelier of Maurice Denis. In Paris, Mac embraced the new Art Deco aesthetics in his own work; there he was also reunited with his sister and muse, Kay—(who had recently married Jean de Landry)—and two other friends from his home town, Holland Robinson and Nina Payne.

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Holland had a real talent for music, and had been earning a living in Tacoma playing piano to accompany the silent films being shown in a local cinema. There he made the acquaintance of Nina, who came to the same theatre as part of a traveling vaudeville company. Learning that his best friend, Mac was off to Paris, Holland also made the decision to uproot and move to Paris and to devote himself to the serious study of music composition. There he absorbed the new harmonies of Satie and Debussy and combined them with American lyricism and Jazz. Nina also traveled to Paris and as a dancer became a star at the Folies Bergère.

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During their sojourn in Europe, the four friends became inseparable bon vivants enjoying the artistic and social life.

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WATERCOLOR OF JEAN AND KAY, HOLLAND AND MAC IN GENEVA, FROM HARSHBERGER’S MANUSCRIPT, UNE MEMOIRE D’UNE VISITE (1925)

In Paris, the aspiring artists and life partners collaborated on projects in which Holland composed music and Mac provided illustrations for the sheet music covers.

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In 1926, Mac and Holland moved back to the States, opening a grand studio in New York. There they launched Robinson-Harshberger Productions, publishing graphic art, limited edition books, and illustrated sheet music.

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Kay and Nina later returned to the States, also settling down in New York, where Kay provided lyrics for some of Mac and Holland’s musical and artistic publications.

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The prolific and happy partnership of Mac and Holland continued to thrive in the mid-to-late twenties.

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The 1929 Stock Market crash brought an end to the “roaring twenties” and ushered in a decade of economic depression that also took its toll on the Robinson-Harshberger partnership. While societal norms and the customs of those times did not allow Mac and Holland to marry, neither was their relationship a hidden or secret thing. Mac and Holland were partners in every sense of the word, and their collaboration has left us musically and artistically richer as a result.

SOMEWHERE I’LL FIND YOU, OR, PUBLISHERS’ DECORATIVE BINDINGS ON THE PHILIPPINES FROM THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

•June 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Today’s blog post comes to you courtesy of Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn. Ms. Pienn has been working to catalog and digitize the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at The Wolfsonian-FIU. This collection is a treasure trove of rare books and often unique diaries, journals, and photograph albums documenting colonial enterprises in the Middle East and Africa, and military conflicts in the Far East. With the Philippines and China Sea controversies in the news of late, Rochelle has provided us with some materials from this region.

China’s recent creation of military outposts not far from the Philippines prompted the United States and Japan to protectively conduct naval maneuvers nearby. Ironically, almost seventy-five years ago, the Japanese occupied the Philippines in a hostile siege during the Second World War. In the vault of cinematic classics, the romantic film, Somewhere I’ll Find You, reunites its starring couple in Manila right as the Unites States is called to war.

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COPYRIGHT MGM STUDIOS

The movie’s leading man, the legendary Clark Gable, began filming right after his third wife, Carole Lombard, died in a plane crash. Upon its completion, Gable enlisted in the Army to fight against the Axis.

Looking even further back in history reveals a time when the United States and the Philippines were at war. Gifted to the U.S. by Spain after the Spanish-American War, the Philippines rumbled with unrest. Filipino natives became unwilling subjects of our republic and began a revolution. The Jean S. and Frederic Sharf Collection at the Wolfsonian-FIU library contains period rare books from the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), documenting this critical episode in the region.

Karl Irving Faust wrote Campaigning in the Philippines in 1899. His family’s American military roots stretched as far back as the Patriot War of 1837 on the U.S.-Canadian border. The cover is embellished with gilt-stamped decorations, including the emblem of the Second Oregon Infantry of San Francisco. The volunteer regiment secured Manila before fighting the Filipinos.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

A year later, Charles R. Mabey, Sergeant of Light Battery A Utah Volunteer Artillery, wrote The Utah Batteries: a History. The red cloth cover is stamped with a crude cutout illustration of an Army volunteer. Passages contain unapologetic racial slurs.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Stephen Bonsal’s book of fiction, published in 1900, masquerades as an actual collection of military correspondence. The officers enter the Philippines feeling overconfident, only to find a violent rebellion that threatens to overpower them. The golden horseshoe pictured on the cover is a visual representation of a literary metaphor, referring back to the Spotwood Tramontane Expedition in the early 1700s. Apparently the shiny souvenirs were promised to those who trekked through the Blue Ridge Mountains with then-governor Spotwood to signify their long and arduous journeys on horseback.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Hancock’s 1900 adventure novel traces the exploits of his fictional hero, Dick Carlson, pictured on the cover with his Filipino captors.

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A similar theme is explored in the 1906 imprint, Captured: the Story of Sandy Ray. The khaki-colored cover and the paste-down illustration of the story’s hero emphasize the military basis of the story. However, this work of fiction contains a romantic element as well, which is perhaps why the protagonist appears more portrait-ready than trenches-ready.

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This 1898 volume provides a more panoramic perspective of the Philippines from the point of view of a female journalist. Margherita Arlina Hamm may have been the first American war correspondent. She traveled extensively, covered the Spanish-American War, and wrote prolifically. This book is illustrated plentifully with photographs, and contains Hamm’s observations of race, industry, architecture, and social customs in the country.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Finally, Joseph Earle Stevens provides this somewhat precious account of living in post-war Manila. While he seems to enjoy the novelty of his surroundings, Stevens expresses polite impatience and distaste with the general lack of sophistication of his Philippine lifestyle. Before page 50, he employs an entire Filipino family to clean and choose his daily outfits.

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Explore The Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at the Wolfsonian-FIU library for other fascinating tomes on the Philippines.

 

 

THE DECO DECADES: THE INSTALLATION OF A NEW WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY EXHIBIT

•June 17, 2015 • 1 Comment

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Just this week, Wolfsonian museum art handlers Steve Forero-Paz and Carlos Alejandro have been taking down the rare book and special collections library exhibit, At Ease: Miami Beach during the Second World War, put up to celebrate our city’s centennial anniversary.

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As part of that continuing celebration, Associate librarian, Dr. Nicolae Harsanyi and private collector and Miami Beach aficionado, Lawrence Wiggins have worked collaboratively to select the materials to go in a new exhibition focusing on Miami Beach’s Art Deco architecture, dining establishments, and the nightclubs that drew tourists to the area during the 1930s and 1940s.

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GIFT OF LAWRENCE WIGGINS III

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GIFTS OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

As Dr. Harsanyi and I have just finished loading the flat cases, and the art handlers are presently installing the materials into wall case, I thought that I would provide our readers with this “behind the scenes” preview of the exhibit which will open to the general public tomorrow.

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Stay tuned! Dr. Harsanyi will provide a follow-up post with more details about the exhibit he and Larry Wiggins put together.

BURMESE DAZE, OR, A BRITISH OASIS IN PICTURES AT THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

•June 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Sharf Associate Librarian, Rochelle Pienn has been busily cataloging rare items from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection. She has most recently been working through some materials documenting British rule in India. Here is her report:

Enjoyment of multiculturalism is essential to living in Miami. On any given day, I can hear six different languages spoken at nearby tables in the South Beach coffee shop where I habitually sip my mocha. I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to make friends from all across the world. The people I know from India, for example, are beautiful, intelligent, funny and wise. In my personal experiences with American yogi culture, much philosophy and lifestyle choices are gleaned from Indian history and civilization. However, India’s true allure, subjugation to, and relationships with the West are long and complex.

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Jordan Bloom & Batya Metalitz. Dharma Studio, Coconut Grove.

This one-of-a-kind photograph album from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection illustrates the appeal of British occupied India in the 1890s from the perspective of Captain Henry Marshall Barnes (18th Company, Southern Division, Royal Artillery).

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 GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Original photographic prints reflect a British view of a peaceful and prosperous time in Burma, Rangoon and Ceylon. Queen Victoria reigned as Empress of India. This group shot shows the members of Barnes’s company in front of the famous Golden Pagoda.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

When in India, do as the British do: the British national sport of cricket was being played just as though the teams were still across the pond.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

 The Irrawaddy River, which spanned Burma, was essential for trade and travel.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

The makeshift vernacular structures of this native village contrast the elaborate architecture of the temple.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

At this point in history, the immensely talented and prolific photographer, Felice Beato, set up his own studio in Mandalay. Born in Italy and raised in Great Britain, Beato spearheaded the photojournalistic movement by accompanying military expeditions across the Far East. He adopted hand-coloring techniques to original prints popularized in Japan. He also excelled in studio portraits of natives, creating lush parlor pictures of attractive women.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Before the widespread availability of photography, many tourists drew and painted scenes from their travels. This lovely original watercolor was painted by Barnes himself.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

This copy of Adrian Jones’s 1896 oil painting, “Hurlingham-Nimble, Cicely, Dynamite and Lady Jane” currently hangs in the British National Museum. Jones and Barnes may have been well acquainted as it appears Jones captured Barnes’s likeness in the scene.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Barnes also included personal snapshots in his album. “Theatricals” shows a cheerful, costumed assembly at the India-Pakistan border. Pictures of friends and family members hearken back to Dover, England.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

 Also back in England, Lord-Lieutenants presented decorations and awards.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

After the death of Queen Victoria, the company returned home. Barnes is seated among his fellow officers.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

The vast and intricate landscape of India continues to captivate the West. For a look at more stunning period photographs, search The Wolfsonian-FIU’s digital collections online, or visit the Wolfsonian-FIU library and page through antique albums from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf in person.

ALL ASHORE: SOME NEWLY ARRIVED OCEAN LINER MATERIALS IN THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY

•June 13, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Today’s post comes to you from Dr. Laurence Miller, retired director of libraries at Florida International University. Some years back. Dr. Miller donated an extensive collection of ocean liner materials to The Wolfsonian-FIU library, and he has since been volunteering his time and expertise helping us catalog and digitize that collection, and other related materials. This past week, he helped us unpack and start cataloging a box of ocean liner materials sent to us by museum founder Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. as a promised gift. Here is his report:

Mr. Wolfson recently sent us from Paris a number of lovely, mostly prewar ocean liner brochures as a promised gift. The city of origin explains why a number of the items are in French.  Concerning Mr. Wolfson, we are fortunate that his love of ocean liners is equaled by his desire to share with the general public what he finds.  We won’t deny that the love of the hunt is also part of his pleasure.  In any case, we are the beneficiaries. First to catch the eye among his finds was a 1934 brochure illustrating Pacific Steam Navigation’s Reina del Pacifico. The cover and first pages have good color graphics, but this was before the era of color photos throughout.

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

Reina was an attractive liner that rendered thirty-seven years of service in peace and war (1931-1958).  The ship served the Liverpool-Valparaiso service of the company which was a subsidiary of Royal Mail Lines.  In the brochure, the route is described as, “The Princes’ Route to South America.”  This arises from a trip that the Prince of Wales and Prince George actually made on the line’s Orpesa, a more modest vessel, the royal passengers notwithstanding.

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

Elsewhere in the Wolfsonian collection is a 1957 brochure on the Reina which has the advantage of the accommodations illustrated in full color.  To contemporary eyes, the Spanish colonial décor in color conveys an attractive but occasionally eccentric ambience.  In any case, the interiors, in all their glory, are fun to look at.

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GIFT OF LAURENCE A. MILLER

Ship aficionados will be familiar with the ship’s late-career grounding in Bermuda.  Passengers made the most of the occasion by inventing a “Reina on the Rocks” cocktail! This was guaranteed to make the evening news, and did.

Also acquired in Paris is a brochure advertising the various services of Lloyd Triestino as they existed in 1935. Included are the splendid Victoria from the line’s service from Italy to the Far East.

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

The vessel was the product of distinguished marine architect Gustavo Pulitzer Finali, also responsible for most of the interiors aboard Conte de Savoia, one of the finest ships in the prewar Italian Line.

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

Mr. Wolfson is especially interested in the Italian maritime heritage, so it is no surprise that among his purchases was a prewar Conte Grande brochure–(no date is provided)–unusual in its fine interior color illustrations of prewar Italia ships.

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

This brochure gives a much fuller impression of the super-ornate Italian marine interiors of the 1920s.

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

Moving from prewar opulence to postwar austerity and “make do,” included was a flier on the flagship of the Turkish merchant marine–the former American liner Tarsus, originally the American Export liner Exchorda of 1931. Exchorda and three sister ships, (collectively known as the “Four Aces”), maintained a passenger and cargo service for American Export Lines from New York to all the Mediterranean. They were fine and advanced ships. Three were lost while serving as troop transports, but Exchorda survived to be sold to Turkey.

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Used for a short period for cruises from the United States, Tarsus returned to Turkey and served until she was lost in 1960 when a burning tanker collided with her. As part of the Turkish Maritime Line her service was from Istanbul to Piraeus, Naples, Genoa, and Marseilles.

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

On a more modern note, in the 1960s, the Soviet’s contracted with East German yards to build a small fleet of 20,000 ton ships that were deployed on many services, notably transatlantic and the Europe-Australia migrant voyages. Some were later converted into full-time cruise ships. Best known was the Aleksandr Pushkin’s conversion into the cruise ship Marco Polo, currently sailing for Cruise and Maritime Voyages. The actual reconstruction took place in Greece for a British travel organization headed by Gerry Harrod. First deployment was for his company, Orient Lines, not to be confused with the venerable British company of the same name. The following illustrations give a fair representation of interior ambience of all these ships under the Soviet flag. However, Marco Polo, ex-Pushkin, continues to sail as a popular German cruise ship.

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

Finally, a flier documenting the last stage of a useful but unglamorous career that began as Union Castle’s Bloemfontein Castle but continued, for much longer period as Patris of Chandris Lines.

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

This involved a joint ferry service with the Karageorgis Line. As Bloemfontein Castle, the vessel continued the Union Castle Line’s long (and unintended) tradition of providing intermediate ships inferior in all respects to those of the Italian Line/Lloyd Trestino. It began in the 1932 when the transfer of the Atlantic liners Giulio Cesare and Duilio to the Italy-South Africa service forced Union Castle to upgrade its fleet. In the postwar period, the Union Castle vessels competed with what was then a Lloyd Triestino service, offering neither air conditioning, elegant décor, nor fine cuisine. Such disappointing passenger service, coupled with the container revolution’s impact on the cargo trade, caused most of the Union Castle ships to be scrapped prematurely. Bloemfontein Castle fared better than many of her fleet mates on the round-Africa service. The Greek shipping line Chandris bought the vessel, immediately installed air-conditioning, and rechristened as Patris she became a popular ship sailing between Greece and Australia—the first ship in a fleet that dominated that route. For a while, she sheltered refugees in Darwin, Australia in the wake of a cyclone that destroyed much of the city. The Patris’ final gig was as car-ferry crossing between Ancona, Italy and Patras, Greece.

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

A BRIEF POST FOR “WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOUR” FROM THE WOLFSONIAN COLLECTION

•June 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

As today is the official “World Day Against Child Labour,” I thought that I would share with my readers some historical items from The Wolfsonian-Florida International University collection on the subject and to simply let the images speak for themselves.

The first image is from Humanities, a book published during the Great Depression with illustrations by the famous American designer, John Vassos (1898-1985). With minimal text (provided by Vassos’ wife, Ruth), the tome was intended to serve as “an artist’s conception of the problems that confront Western civilization to-day.” One of the full-page illustrations is titled “Child Labor” and depicts young children working in agricultural fields, or as shoe-shine boys, newsboys, or laboring in sweatshops in the cities.

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THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU, MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. COLLECTION

In 1937, Modern Age Books published a graphic history of the United States using pictorial statistics created by Rudolf Modley. An earlier post this week described the popularity of pictograms in making complex statistical information more palatable to the general public; this particular book was extremely influential in forwarding that trend in America.

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THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU, THE CHRISTOPHER DENOON COLLECTION FOR THE STUDY OF NEW DEAL CULTURE

Where Vassos rendered his social critique in his characteristic Art Deco style and Rudolf Modley used pictograms to make his point, another book in the Wolfsonian-FIU library collection, Archibald Macleish’s Land of the Free, tackled similar issues using a sparse and poetic narrative juxtaposed to full-page photographs.

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GIFT OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

A final booklet, Migrants of the Crops: They Starve that We May Eat, was published by the Council of Women for Home Missions and Missionary Education Movement at the end of the decade of depression. The text of the reform tract was supplemented with photographic illustrations by Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985), and Russell Lee (1903-1986), photographers originally employed by President Franklin Roosevelt’s Farm Security Administration (FSA) to document the social ills of the era and to advocate for New Deal solutions.

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

As one of our curators, Jon Mogul, is installing a set of New Deal era mural studies in our fifth floor gallery later this month, I thought that I would end today’s post with one such painting which will not be on view, but which depicts women and children slaving away in a sweat shop.

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“VICTORY OF LIGHT OVER DARKNESS” (1938) MURAL STUDY BY ERNEST FIENE FOR THE AUDITORIUM OF THE CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL OF NEEDLE TRADES, NEW YORK CITY

 
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