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Using Library of Congress Posters to Inspire Creativity

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The Library of Congress compiles and makes available sets of images that are free to use and reuse. These items are either in the public domain, have no known copyright, or the copyright holder has given permission for the public to use these materials. Included in the collection of free to use materials are images from the Civil War, women’s history, films from the National Film Registry, and classic children’s books. These images can engage and inspire students to do deeper research on the images and the historical and cultural events that formed the context for their creation.

More Courtesy. Federal Arts Project

Wish or Work. Hal Depuy, 1929

Join NSA, National Ski Association, 1957

This month, the Library’s Free to Use and Reuse area features a Poster Parade. The selections, on a wide variety of topics, represent a collaboration with Poster House, a new museum opening in 2019.

This collaboration has a twist: a contest that will spur your students’ creativity. They invite users to re-imagine the selected posters using digital animation. As noted in this post announcing the collaboration, the contest asks: “Can you tease new meaning out of a scene? Can you illuminate something interesting? Can you make viewers laugh?” The contest is open to both amateurs and professionals.

Your students might start by selecting a poster and taking careful note of the details. What do they notice first? What surprises them? Then they might reflect on the poster’s meaning and how it’s conveyed. How might they animate it to create something new?

To learn more about the Library of Congress poster collections, read this blog post from the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division.

Which posters will you choose? And how will animation bring new life to these posters? Let us know in the comments.

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