Found in the LOC: Vintage Posters Celebrating Books


Tuesday is traditionally the day book publishers release their latest titles. No one knows why they do this on Tuesdays. Literally no one.  Some say believe it’s about optimizing best-seller results; some say that it’s to make life easy for distributors. But whatever the reason, I’m celebrating this week’s new book day with FIVE sets of vintage posters celebrating the written word, all sourced from the Library of Congress.

The first gallery is perhaps the most relevant to today: created between 1935 and 1942 by the government-backed Works Progress Administration, they urge patriotic Americans to embrace books as democratic tools. “To speak up for democracy, read up on democracy,” reads one, while another insists “Books are Weapons.”

In an era defined by a famously anti-intellectual president’s existential threat to our nation’s most storied institutions and norms, these are important reminders.

The second set of posters, born from a World War I collaboration between the Society of Illustrators and the Committee on Public Information, implores Americans to send books “over there” for our troops.

Third up: A circa 1936-1940 series of really fun WPA PSAs from the “Be Kind to Books Club.” One piece of advice: don’t gum it up!

Similarly, the fourth gallery celebrates Book Weeks from between 1949 and 1964. It’s fascinating to see the aesthetic shift over the years – and keep your eyes peeled for a piece by Maurice Sendak.

Meanwhile, the fifth and final collection, created by the National Association of Booksellers way back in the 1920s, suggests you buy books as gifts – advice I endorse any day of the week!

Read up on Democracy:

See the rest AFTER THE JUMP!

Send Books “Over There”:


Be Kind to Books:


Book Week!


Books, the Best Gifts:


Click here for more FOUND IN THE LOC.


Image Credits:

Read Up on Democracy:

“To Speak Up for Democracy, Read Up on Democracy,” WPA, 1935.

Books are Weapons,” WPA, 1941-1943.

“Books Cannot Be Killed,” The Office of War Information, 1942.


Send Books “Over There”:

“They Signal ‘Send Books’,” by HC Miner Lithograph, 1917.

“Hey Fellows,” John E. Sheridan, 1918.

“Yanks in Germany Want More Books,” Charles Buckles Falls, 1918.

“Photo of Charles Buckles Falls at Library,” Alfred A. Cohn, 1918.

“Books Wanted for Our Men,” by Charles Buckles Falls, 1918.


Be Kind to Books:

Be Kind the Books Club. Are You a Member?” by Gregg Arlington for the WPA, 1936-1940.

“A Book Mark Would be Better,” by Gregg Arlington for the WPA, 1936-1940.

“This Breaks the Back of a Book,” by Gregg Arlington for the WPA, 1936-1940.

“Don’t Gum Up a Book,” by Gregg Arlington for the WPA, 1936-1940.

“Rain is Bad for a Book,” by Gregg Arlington for the WPA, 1936-1940.


Book Week:

“Make Friends with Books,” Elizabeth Tyler Wolcott, 1949.

“Explore with Books,” Paul Rand, 1950.

“New Horizons,” Marcia Brown, 1951.

“Explore with Books,” Alice Provensen, 1957.

“Hurray for Books,” Maurice Sendak, 1960.

“Hurray for Books,” Peter Burchard, 1961.

“Go Exploring,” Feodor Rojankovsky, 1961.

“I Like Books,” Kate Seredy, 1962.

“Three Cheers for Books,” Adrienne Adams, 1963.

“Swing Into Books,” Bruno Munari, 1964.


Books, The Gifts That Keeps on Giving:

“Books, the Ideal Gift,” Ethel C. Taylor, 1920.

“Why Not Books?,” Ethel C. Taylor, 1920.

“Books for the Holiday,” Edward Arthur Wilson, 1927.

“Books, the Best Gifts,” Edward Arthur Wilson, 1927.


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