Always in the aftermath of installing an exhibition we find yet another object or artifact that would have been perfect for the show had we additional space in the cases. Such was the case with our latest library (and virtual) exhibit, Statistically Speaking: The Graphic Expression of Data which opened to the public last month.

One such item was America Builds Ships, a book published by the United States Maritime Commission in 1940 celebrating the achievements of American shipping, and advocating an increase in ship construction.

While catching up with a backlog of books donated by Christopher DeNoon, I also came across another book that would have been a perfect addition to the show. Mr. DeNoon is an aficionado of New Deal art and graphic design and donated this item, Democracy at Work: Living in American Communities, and hundreds of other books and ephemera to the Wolfsonian library as part of the Christopher DeNoon Collection for the Study of New Deal Culture.

Published in 1942, this book literally has pictographs marching across its spine and front cover and is filled inside with reproductions of some of the best examples of pictorial statistics commonly used to report on demographic, economic, and social trends in America during the Great Depression and New Deal Administration.


Of course, even had I found this book in time for inclusion in the exhibit, I would have been hard pressed to decide upon a single page spread as the book is loaded with graphic statistics. Consequently, I’ve chosen to include in this blog post a host of pictorial statistics extracted from various pages in the text.

Another item donated by Mr. DeNoon published during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt used similar designs not as graphic statistics but as pictographic illustrations to bring home the message that the WPA and other New Deal work projects not only provided jobs, but helped rebuild the morale of Americans who did not want to be out of work and on the dole.

Our thanks to Christopher DeNoon, and to all of those donors who have helped to augment our strengths, fill in our gaps, and enrich our collection.

~ by "The Chief" on September 24, 2011.

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