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