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

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.

~ by "The Chief" on October 17, 2014.

One Response to “POSTERS, PICTOGRAPHS, PICTOGRAMS, AND PUBLIC HISTORY AT THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY”

  1. Great entry! Thanks for all the photos!

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: