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Mrs. W.K. Vanderbilt, Director of Personnel for Line-of-Communication canteen assigning some of her assistants to their several duties. Photo by U.S. Army Signal Corps, September 1918. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.18339

Posters in the Picture

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Some of my previous blog posts have shown connections between collections housed in the Prints & Photographs (P&P) Division. I am always on the lookout for photos that include posters that are a part of P&P’s holdings. This post will focus on two photos from the American National Red Cross (ANRC) Collection. Both photos include posters as decorative elements.

First up is this photo from the American National Red Cross Photograph Collection:

Mrs. W.K. Vanderbilt, Director of Personnel for Line-of-Communication canteen assigning some of her assistants to their several duties. Photo by U.S. Army Signal Corps, September 1918. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.18342

The photo shows Mrs. W.K. Vanderbilt (Anne Harriman Sands Rutherford Vanderbilt) at work for the Red Cross in France during World War I. I spotted two U.S. posters in the photo. Copies of both  posters are housed in the Prints & Photographs Division.

This poster by James Montgomery Flagg asking children to do their part in the war effort is not as famous as his Uncle Sam I Want You poster:

Boys and girls! You can Help your Uncle Sam Win the War. Lithograph by James Montgomery Flagg, 1917. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b52466

This recruitment poster shows a Marine charging forth over sandbags:

First in France. Lithograph by John A. Coughlin, 1917. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g09736

Another Red Cross photo of Anne Vanderbilt shows her working with a map of France:

Mrs. W.K. Vanderbilt, Director of Personnel for Line-of-Communication canteen assigning some of her assistants to their several duties. Photo by U.S. Army Signal Corps, September 1918. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.18339

Above the map is a poster by Edwin Blashfield. It shows the female personifications of Great Britain and France, Britannia and Marianne. Here is P&P’s copy of the poster:

Emblem of France and Great Britain. Lithograph by Edwin H. Blashfield, 1917. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g09654

Anyone familiar with the decorative artwork of the Library’s Jefferson Building will have heard the name Blashfield before. He is the creator of the artwork at the highest point of the Main Reading Room, the collar and lantern of the interior dome:

Main Reading Room. Interior of dome. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, 2007. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.02070

Blashfield’s work shows a female figure symbolizing Human Understanding encircled by twelve figures representing various aspects of civilization.

The posters in this blog post were created over 100 years ago. Today, it’s easy to see them as art objects. But we should remember that these posters and many more were put to work and displayed so that their messages could reach the masses.

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