The following is a guest post by Jan Grenci, Reference Specialist for Posters, Prints and Photographs Division.
Winter is one of my favorite seasons, what with the snow, and the cookies, and the caroling. There are a number of posters in the collections of the Prints and Photographs Division that illustrate some of the things that make winter the most wonderful time of the year.
In Dorothy Waugh’s Winter Sports poster, two robust figures stand ready to hit the slopes. Ms. Waugh worked for the National Park Service (NPS) and created posters to encourage visits to national and state parks.
At the same time Ms. Waugh was working for the NPS, artists and designers working for the Work Projects Administration (WPA) were busy producing posters for many federal programs. This poster of a child heading home from the library with a full sled reminds us that winter is a great time to curl up with a good book or two.
The Prints and Photographs Division’s holdings of travel posters are very strong and depict such modes of transportation as ships, trains, and planes. Would that we could all be so lucky as to travel over the river and through the woods on this Pennsylvania Railroad train as it passes through a snow-capped keystone festooned with a giant wreath.
By the time artist Louis Rhead died in 1926, he was remembered more for the angling books he wrote and illustrated than for his turn-of-the-century poster designs. A fine example of his work is this poster for the 1896 Christmas issue of The Century. It shows the main course of a Christmas feast that few of us would consider eating: peacock! Aside from the somewhat dubious meal choice, this poster is a masterpiece of decorative illustration. In this serene, well-composed scene, the season is symbolized by the hanging mistletoe, the holly pattern of the woman’s dress, and the sprig of holly in her hair.
I hope these posters inspire you to look at the winter season with new eyes. To borrow from another carol and another Prints and Photographs Division collection, may your holidays “nearly be like a picture print by Currier & Ives.”
- Read an overview of the travel posters in the Prints and Photographs Division: Around the World with the Library of Congress Poster Collection: An Overview of Travel Posters.
- Explore posters by Louis Rhead in the Artist Posters Collection.
- View other wintry posters in the Work Projects Administration Poster Collection.
- Within the Popular Graphic Arts Collection, there are over 2,000 prints published by Currier & Ives. Enjoy a sample of winter-related prints by the American printmaking firm.
Thank you, Ms. Grenci, for your grand post. The beautiful Pennsylvania Railroad and A Year of Good Reading Ahead posters I’ll use shortly in my adult English as a Second Language (ESL) classes as discussion and writing prompts; both are lovely doorways into history, and many of my students have not experienced snow.
For all English teachers,
The child with sled poster is also good for an introduction to the joys of English:
“Ahead” and “A head”:
“What’s that in the road ahead?”
“What’s that in the road, a head?”
Sorry, couldn’t resist!
Beautiful posters, Jan. Thank you!
What an amazing selection, Jan. Lovely posters, one and all.