Signs of Their Times: A Few of My Favorite Signs

In this final installment in the “Signs of Their Times” series drawing from the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) Photograph Collection, I offer a few of my miscellaneous favorites. To begin, I can’t imagine any librarian, or book-lover for that matter, could resist this 1940 appeal from the “The Mogollon School Kids” to the members of their New Mexico community for “old books” for the schoolhouse library:

Sign on side of building. Mogollon, New Mexico.

Sign on side of building. Mogollon, New Mexico. Photograph by
Russell Lee, June 1940. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b25543

Also in Mogollon, on the left below, photographer Russell Lee captures this longer version of the archetypal “No credit. Don’t ask.” signs still found in cafes and taverns today. A year later in Nampa, Idaho, on the right, Lee pictures this hand-lettered notice written on a business’ glass door that fills a double function as it both informs customers of the 5:30 closing and cheers on the local ball team playing that evening at Rodeo Park:

Sign in restaurant in Mogollon, New Mexico

Sign in restaurant in Mogollon, New Mexico. Photograph by Russell Lee, June 1940.
//hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b25426

Sign, Nampa, Idaho

Sign, Nampa, Idaho.
Photograph by Russell Lee, June 1941.
//hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a30083

Is there a more sensible place for a sign-maker to advertise than the community bulletin board at the local post office?:

Signs on the post office bulletin board in Childersburg, Alabama

Signs on the post office bulletin board in Childersburg, Alabama.
Photograph by Jack Delano, May 1941. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a35763

Sign, Jeanerette, Louisiana

Sign, Jeanerette, Louisiana.
Photograph by Russell Lee, September 1938.
//hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8a23624

Finally, I admire this Jeanerette, Louisiana, sign to the right for the spare succinctness of its single-word message — “WHISKEY.” And, the pairing with the recognizable graphic of a whiskey bottle, earns it my sign efficiency award.

Learn More

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.