GOOD NEIGHBOR FLEET EXHIBIT OPENS IN THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY

Just yesterday, the Wolfsonian Library opened a new exhibit featuring the Moore-McCormack Lines’ “Good Neighbor Fleet,” with items drawn from a recent donation to the collection made by Thomas C. Ragan.

ART HANDLERS JAMES TAYLOR AND STEVE FORERO-PAZ

The Wolfsonian holds a very important collection of objects and rare library artifacts dating from the New Deal era, and Mr. Ragan’s gift has broadened and strengthened that collection. His gift includes a wealth of materials in a variety of formats produced by the Moore-McCormack Lines to promote its South American route.

  

GIFTS OF THOMAS C. RAGAN

In his March 1933 inaugural speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt not only promised the nation a “New Deal,” but also promoted a “Good Neighbor Policy” with South America. An avid yachtsman, as president FDR encouraged the expansion of U.S. flag shipping and the cultivation of amicable trade and tourist relations with our neighbors to the South.

GIFT OF THOMAS C. RAGAN

In 1938, Moore-McCormack Lines sought to capitalize on government subsidies and South American markets by designating three of its ships (the S.S. Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay) as the “Good Neighbor Fleet”—a deliberate echo of the line from FDR’s inaugural speech.

 GIFTS OF THOMAS C. RAGAN

It is worth noting that Hollywood, too, began to make overtures to our South American neighbors. As the studios began to lose critical export markets in fascist-dominated Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s, most (with government encouragement) turned their attention southward and began producing “good neighborly” films. Working closely with the Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (CIAA), Walt Disney became its chief propagandist for the Good Neighbor Policy and promoting Pan-American solidarity. During a two month “goodwill tour” of Latin America sponsored entirely by the CIAA, Disney and twenty of his animators and technicians combined live action and staged documentary footage to produce musical cartoon shorts. These were later combined into the popular Saludos Amigos feature (1943) in which the “Gringo” Donald Duck, the Brazilian parrot José Carioca, and “Gaucho” Goofy shared the screen with live Latin American actors, entertainers, and extras.

Although America’s entry into the Second World War in 1941 resulted in the requisitioning of the Moore-McCormack’s South American ship, at the war’s end the company reclaimed, renovated, and reconstituted its Good Neighbor Fleet.    

 

GIFTS OF THOMAS C. RAGAN

Moore-McCormack’s luxury cruise line route to the Eastern ports of South America flourished in the fifties. In their effort to promote the “Good Neighbor Fleet” brand, the company turned to an American expatriate artist living for designs for their menu covers. Ada Peacock had worked in New York and London as a costume designer before marrying a British advertising executive and moving with him to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The gouaches she made there often depicted the traditional costumes and cultures of the South American natives and gauchos; many of the artist’s original paintings were reworked and used to decorate the menus printed by the company for their South American luxury liners.

GIFTS OF THOMAS C. RAGAN

In the 1950s, Moore-McCormack’s Good Neighbor fleet had to contend with some South American competition as the Argentine State Line began to offer cruises aboard their own fleet of ships, the Rio de la Plata, the Rio Tunuyan, and the Rio Jachal.

 GIFTS OF LAURENCE MILLER

The Wolfsonian Library is deeply grateful to Thomas Ragan for his donation, and looks forward to making the large cache of archival and promotional materials accessible to scholars and the general public. Thanks, also, to Laurence Miller and Michel Potop for their work in processing the materials, and to Digital Library Specialist David Almeida for designing a virtual version of the library display.

~ by "The Chief" on June 2, 2012.

3 Responses to “GOOD NEIGHBOR FLEET EXHIBIT OPENS IN THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY”

  1. Wolfsonian first rate maybe even above that one of a kind so close to so many.
    Thank you

  2. Extraordinary sets up. Thanks!

  3. […] exposition as the “Gateway to Latin America,” I couldn’t help but to reflect on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor” policy in the 1930s and the long-term changes it initiated. I found the expo’s Latin American theme and […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: