Zines for Progress

While I have temporarily assumed the hat of curator and have been busy preparing an exhibition about the U.S.-Cuba relationship between 1919 and 1959, my colleagues in The Wolfsonian-FIU library, Dr. Nicolae Harsanyi and Rochelle Pienn have been attending to visiting high school students working on a Zines project with the museum’s education staff. Here is Dr. Harsanyi’s report:

In December 2015, and January 2016, the first groups of teachers and students participating in the museum education department’s “Zines for Progress” program visited the Wolfsonian-FIU library.*  Using a variety of periodicals displayed for this purpose on the large reading room table, our Chief Librarian, Dr. Francis Luca, explained a multiplicity of meaningful features exhibited by the publications on view.



The most common form of binding used in the production of periodicals is to staple together the pages and the cover. This requires, however, a more industrial approach to binding. Instead, the students can resort to a more readily available method, that of sewing together the folded leaves:


Also some magazine designers resorted to metal or plastic spiral binding. This allows the reader to hold the periodical in one hand while reading:


ter es forma

Alphabet and Image3

As a rule, periodicals are printed so that they can reach a large number of readers. A variant to printing is the multiplication of pages by mimeography, a method suited to publications with a small print run.  Our library has several newsletters published in the camps of Civilian Conservation Corps (or CCC), all mimeographed:





As it was evident in the cases above, the design of titles for the periodicals may involve hand lettering, instead of using regular typefaces:


In his presentation, Dr. Luca also talked about the importance of the typography and art that go into the design of the front covers of periodicals. He emphasized the unity between content and form in the design of propaganda magazines published by totalitarian regimes.  The military invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany in 1939, the event that started World War II, is epitomized on the cover of the magazine “Die Pause”:


The cult of personality of Mao Zedong is propagated on and through the cover of an English language magazine intended for readers outside China:


Magazine covers often feature artwork that is meant to attract the would-be buyer through shocking images: the covers of pulp fiction periodicals testify to this marketing device:



*Other groups of students from Miami area schools involved within the same project visited the library in 2016, according to the following schedule: December 15, 2015 – Law Enforcement High School ; January 14, 2016 – South Miami Senior High; January 26, 2016 – Arthur and Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts; January 28, 2016 – G.H. Braddock Senior High; January 29, 2016 – I Prepatory Academy; February 25, 2016 – Miami Beach Senior High; March 15, 2016 – Miami Beach Senior High.

~ by "The Chief" on March 2, 2016.

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