Found in the LOC: 16 Posters By Graphic Great Lester Beall


Last week marked the 83rd anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt creating the Rural Electrification Administration, one the president’s many New Deal efforts to give poor Americans an assist in catching up with urban areas. And as with all such initiatives this one came complete with a series of graphic-driven PSAs like the one above, by Lester Beall.

The unofficial grandfather of modern graphic design, Kansas-born, New York-based Beall broke free from previous realist design rules, toying with perspective, space and planes to create a new, almost collage-like three-dimensionality aimed at eye and heart alike. The designer “must work with one goal in mind—to integrate the elements in such a manner that they will combine to produce a result that will convey not merely a static commercial message, but an emotional reaction as well,” he said.

And it’s this philosophy that garnered Beall a loyal following and booming business over the next decades. While he worked for the government again later, during a Housing Authority campaign against slums, his work in the 1940s was primarily for editorial clients like the Chicago Tribune and Collier’s, the latter of whom he designed the chilling “Will There Be War?” cover featuring Churchill, and corporate entities, including Upjohn Pharmaceutical and Abbott Technologies, for whom he designed corporate magazines. Later, in the 1950s and 1960s, he pioneered modern branding for industrial giants like Caterpillar, Merrill Lynch, and International Paper deploy design to create public personas for themselves. Lester Beall died in 1969, leaving an indelible mark on our visual culture.

After the jump, 15 more Lester Beall posters from his time working for the government, mostly for Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Program, and all found in the Library of Congress.

And for more “Found in the LOC,” click here.

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Found in The LOC: Buying Flowers in NYC, 1900

With Easter right around the corner, what better time to feast our collective eyes on some shots of New Yorkers buying their holiday bouquets in Union Square circa 1900? See fifteen more, all found in the LOC, after the jump.

And for more “Found in the LOC,” click here.

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Found in the LOC: A Cat’s Autobiography

While Found in the LOC is typically a collection of images found in the Library of Congress’ online archives, today’s is but a link and very brief excerpt to/from the 1901 book Pussy Meow: Autobiography of a Cat.

Dictated to author Louise Patteson as a means of encouraging respect for animals, it’s an endearing tale with an enduring message. A brief taste, from the cat’s perspective:

One morning, when my mother had gone away as usual, I saw some children at play on the sidewalk, and I thought how nice it would be to be with them. It was very naughty for me to think of such a thing, because we had been told never to go outside the yard; and as neither Trix nor Nora would go with me, I went alone.

As soon as I reached the sidewalk, a big black dog came across the street and barked at me. I started to run back through the gate, but it had closed, and I hadn’t time to look for a hole to crawl through. So I ran down the sidewalk, trembling with fright.

When I had run a long way, I went into a yard, but the people there didn’t like cats; a boy was sent to chase me through the gate, and I continued my wearisome journey. How I did wish that somebody would take me up, or show me the way home; but nobody seemed to care what became of me. Finally, being so very tired, I crawled in under a fence, and seeing no one around, I lay down in the corner and went to sleep.

I do not know how long I lay there. When I awoke the moon was shining, and I continued my

journey down the sidewalk, hoping to find my yard. But when after a long walk I didn’t find it, not knowing what else to do, I sat down by a tree and began to cry.

Find out what happens to this erudite cat by checking out the full copy over at the LOC.

Found in the LOC: 29 Pics of Female Machinists, ’41-43

Earlier this month, I posted an incredible image of a woman working on B-25 bomber during World War II. That was just one of hundreds such images taken by Office of War Information photographer Alfred T. Palmer, though only a few dozen are color.

Here are 29 of those colorized images, some taken in Long Beach, others in Akron and others in Nashville, all between 1941 and 1943, and all showing how integral women were to the war effort: A quarter of the female population was working either on the home front or as part of the armed services during those years, only to be sent back to the kitchen when the men folk returned. It was an injustice, to be sure, but helped set the stage for the women’s rights movement in the decades ahead.

[That said, had men of that era really respected and appreciated women’s efforts in the war years and kept them on, perhaps the women’s rights movement wouldn’t have been necessary….]

Anyway, check out 28other great images after the jump. I’ve kept commentary to a minimum, but I must say some of the outfits here deserved a shout out. To some, commenting on women’s clothing may seem sexist, but what can I say? I’m a fan of fashion.

Above, a woman working on “Vengeance” dive bomber in Tennessee, 1943.

[And for more Found in the LOC, click here.]

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Found in the LOC: 25 Elizabeth Shippen Green Images

For today’s Found in the LOC, feast your eyes on over two dozen works by Elizabeth Shippen Green.

Inspired and encouraged as a child by her artist father, the exceptionally talented illustrator was first published in 1889, at age eighteen, and Green’s six decade career included contributions to popular and venerable publications Philadelphia Times, Women’s Home Companion, and the Saturday Evening Post, as well as to Harper’s magazine, with whom she signed an enviable exclusive contract in 1901, at age 30. She was the publication’s first female staff member.

Though Green’s gender was unique in the booming field of illustrators at the time, she was hardly alone: she was part of a growing generation of female artists, and, along with Jessie Willcox Smith and Violet Oakley, was part of a posse known as the Red Rose Girls, named after the inn where they lived and worked together in Philadelphia.

Despite what television producers from Aaron Spelling to Andy Cohen would like you to believe, Green and her contemporaries weren’t prone to back-stabbing or cat-fights. On the contrary, they were known for advocating for one another, helping others who typified that era’s “New Woman,” that is: women who left the kitchen and made it on their own. (This “New Woman” was the foremother of the “career woman” of the eighties and today’s “Liz Lemon” trying to“have it all,” because even a century after Green signed with Harper’s, society still has to label/problematize women who dare do what men do all the time, through all of time.)

Anyway, in celebration of Green’s trailblazing career, I’ve rounded up 25 of the nearly 200 of her images found at the Library of Congress’ website. Some are included simply because they’re gorgeous; others because they’re gothic, a favorite genre of Green’s and some of which remind me mightily of Charles Vess’ work on DC Comics’ Books of Magic series; and others are included simply because of their titles: Removed from the context of the stories they illustrated, some are given new weight against the backdrop of contemporary debates over gender and sex –. I particularly like the ones that appear to invert gender stereotypes, e.g. image #13, “Monsieur Brisson visibly shuddered and paled.” — others are just amusing, like image #22, “I observed it, a new ceiling.” LOL!

But seriously, check ’em out. They’re lovely.

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Found in the LOC: 18 Pics of Tuskegee Airmen, 1945

I’m not a “Rah-Rah Armed Services”-type person, but I absolutely love these images of Tuskegee-trained Airmen in Italy during World War II.

The first black Air Force pilots, these men fought for a country that still discriminated against them, a country that segregated them, treated them less-than and that refused to give them full rights when they returned home — and yet these men still fought with all their heart. That is patriotism, not that “must kneel for the National Anthem” mumbo-jumbo  pushed so hard by right wingers.

Anyway, I’ve included seventeen other images after the jump. And, yes, there are more than a few “stare into the sky” poses, but that layer of cheese, somehow, adds to the effect.

And for more Found in the LOC, click here.

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Found in the LOC: 28 Pics from WEB DuBois’ 1899 Show

In 1899, WEB DuBois, a man many of us associate with writing, traveled around America, compiling a collection candid pictures of African Americans living their lives at the turn of the century; these images were then sent oversea to Paris, where they were displayed at the  Exposition Universelle of 1900, under the name “Exhibit of the American Negroes.”

It’s a harsh name, but where similar shows in the past had othered black people, trying to denote their “difference” from white people, DuBois’ show both showed diversity among black people — a revolutionary concept for some people back then and, sadly, today — and exhibited the stunning banality of everyday black life. Of course, we Americans know that in the background there was hideous racism and the ever-present threat of violence, which makes the composure in and of these pictures all the more remarkable.

Here are 28 of the nearly 400 in DuBois’ show; many of these were taken by DuBois collaborator Thomas E. Eskew, and all were shot in and around Atlanta, some, I believe, not far from where I live now… All were found over at the Library of Congress.

(And for more Found in the LOC, click here.)

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Found in the LOC: Typewriters in Unique Situations

I’m going a slightly different route with this week’s “Found in the LOC.” Rather than feature an artist or particular aesthetic or theme, as I did with old bike adverts and Gordon Parks and animals acting human, this week’s entry is organized an object, which, as the headline suggests, is a typewriter.

The Library of Congress’ online archive has just over 400 images of the computer’s forbearer. Some are udoandard fair: secretaries typing away, an author musing over the keys, but below are some of the more unique images in the collection: doctors examining typewriters being sent off to war, the machine being delivered on camelback and, the most bizarre by far, a woman using a typewriter in the shower, being watched by other women, one of whom appears almost to be coaching here. It’s very strange. Don’t worry, though, there are a few famous faces in the mix… Well, famous to some, at least. Not, you know, like Taylor Swift-famous.

Anyway, check them all out, after the break.

[And click here for more Found in the LOC.]

 

 

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Found in the LOC: 12 Jessie Willcox Smith Color Plates


The Library of Congress is currently presenting a show of groundbreaking female illustrators and graphic designers in America. Called “Drawn to Purpose,” and up through October of this year, the collection features work by luminaries like fashion illustrator Grace Drayton; Mary Hollock Foote, one of the first women to work as a professional illustrator; and Jackie Ormes, a groundbreaking black female comic book creator behind the serialized story Heartbeats.

And then there’s Jessie Willcox Smith, the exceptional talent who provided countless illustrations for late 19th century and early 20th century magazines — Collier’s, Century and Harper’s, to name a few — and popular books, such as Little Women and A Child’s Book of Country Stories. Perhaps her most famous work, however, are the illustrations Smith provided for the 1916 re-issue of Charles Kinglsey’s fantastical morality tale, The Water-Babies, about a kid who drowns and must reclaim his righteousness to make it back to land.

That said, for this week’s “Found in the LOC,” and to celebrate the Library of Congress’ Drawn to Purpose show, here are a dozen of Smith’s whimsical yet sinister Water Babies water colors, all from 1916. Above, “Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby” and “Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid“.

Ten more AFTER THE JUMP.

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Found in the LOC: 21 Vintage Pics of Sled Dogs

Dogs are far more than man’s bets friend; they’re also our best assistants! First used in hunting expeditions at least 15,000 years ago, dogs became herders around 4,000 BCE, branched into health services, ie seeing eyes, in the 1500s and started fighting crime in the 1880s, when English bloodhounds were used to track Jack the Ripper.

But no interspecies cooperation is as intrepid and romantic than dog sledding: traversing long, often forbidding terrains with a pack of dogs, the use of which first began around 9,000 years ago. In honor of all the canine drivers and their hard work, here are nearly two dozen images of canines giving humans a helping hand. [I bet you thought I was going to say “paw.”]

Revel in their adorable utilitarianism, AFTER THE JUMP.

Above, a dog team delivering provisions in Alaska c. 1900.

(For more Found in the LOC, click here.)

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