« October 2017 | Main | December 2017 »

November 2017

Now on view: Alice Hendee in “Americans, Do Your Bit: World War I in Posters”

This Is What God Gives Us, 1917-1918. Alice Julia Hendee (1889-1969), New York. Gift of Diana Korzenik and Andrew S. Dibner, A99/81/01. Photograph by David Bohl.

During World War I when the U. S. government sought to persuade citizens to help the war effort, it turned to a group of volunteer artists for help. These artists deployed their enthusiasm and skill to help sell the government’s messages in poster form. Before, during and after America’s twenty-month participation in World War I—from April 1917 through November 1918—the government and private organizations printed more than twenty million posters to encourage citizens to donate money, conserve food, and support war-related charitable efforts.  Some of these posters are now on view in “Americans, Do Your Bit:  World War I in Posters.”

In 1917 volunteer artists formed the Division of Pictorial Publicity, a group within the United States Committee on Public Information. At its height the Division numbered 312 artists in its ranks. Most were experienced illustrators who drew pictures for books, magazines, and all kinds of advertisers. These artists turned their talents to promoting war time initiatives. Their main audience was Americans on the home front. The Division created a host of advertisements, including window cards, subway car cards, and 700 poster designs. Their posters hung in libraries, railway stations, factories, clubs, and schools—citizens could not escape their pressing and persuasive messages.

Throughout the conflict, the United States Food Administration and the National War Garden Commission, encouraged citizens to use food wisely and to produce food at home. The USFA crafted the official policies and mechanisms that allowed America to feed its citizens and soldiers as well as assist the Allies—mainly in Belgium, England, France and Italy—by controlling the supply, distribution and conservation of food. The National War Garden Commission taught new gardeners how to grow vegetables and how to dry and can food for preservation. These and other efforts at home freed up commercially produced food, which could then be sent to soldiers or Allied civilians. To help achieve their aims, organizations produced leaflets, presented demonstrations, sent out speakers, and offered classes. They also printed thousands of eye-catching posters urging Americans to conserve, preserve, and produce.

One design, illustrated at left, was the work of the artist Alice Julia Hendee (1889-1969).  With this image of an attic stocked with colorful fruits and vegetables, she suggested a bountiful fall harvest. The text encouraged viewers to do without in order to help others. The USFA also practiced conservation of poster designs—it presented this same artwork with a different slogan: “Eat less and let us be thankful that we have enough to share with those who fight for freedom.” Signed A. Hendee at the lower right, a note in a list of food-related wartime publications credited the artist of this poster, No. 17. “Fruits and Vegetables,” as Alice Hendee.  A 1917 New York City directory listed Alice Hendee as an artist living on the upper West Side. 




“Publications of the U. S. Food Administration,” Food News Notes for Public Libraries, vol. 1, no. 9, June, 1918, p. 20.

Walton H. Rawls, Wake up, America!: World War I and the American Poster (New York : Abbeville Press, Inc., 1988)

Digital Collections Highlight: Civil War Discharge Certificate

A2011_006_1DS1_webThe Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives' Digital Collections website features a rich collection of digitized documents from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

This week, in commemoration of Veterans’ Day, we highlight this Civil War discharge certificate, issued to James Foran in September 1864 at Philadelphia.

Foran (1840-1906), pictured below in a tintype portrait from the museum's collection, was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1859. Foran entered the service as a Private of Company G, 8th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry on September 2, 1861. He was wounded by a gunshot in the left side at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863. James Foran tintypeOne of the major battles of the American Civil War, the Battle of Chancellorsville took place near the village of Chancellorsville, Virginia, from April 30 to May 6, 1863. Foran was wounded on May 3, the fiercest day of fighting of the battle—a day that was also the second bloodiest day of the Civil War. The Battle of Chancellorsville resulted in heavy losses on both the Union and Confederate sides.

Nearly a year later, on May 1, 1864, Foran was transferred to the 162nd Company, 2nd Battalion, Veteran Reserve Corps where he served at Cuyler General Hospital at Germantown, Pennsylvania. Originally organized as the Invalid Corps in 1863, the renamed Veteran Reserve Corps was organized at Cuyler General Hospital on March 20, 1864. The Corps was a military reserve organization created within the Union Army during the Civil War. In existence until 1869, its purpose was to allow partially disabled or otherwise infirm soldiers – or former soldiers – to perform light duty. Foran served with the Veteran Reserve Corps for four months, mustering out on September 3, 1864 at the expiration of his term of service.

In 1870, he married Mary Connell (1847-1913), with whom he had three children. Foran died in 1906 at the age of 65 and is buried in Lambertville, New Jersey.

You can check out other tintypes from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's collection here and other digitized Civil War-related Library & Archives items here.



Civil War Discharge Certificate, 1864. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Gift of George Sommer, USM 001.336.

James Foran, ca. 1861. United States. Gift of George Sommer, 2011.004.2. Photograph by David Bohl.





Collectible Tobacco Silks

Tobacco Silk Pillow Cover, 1908-1915. Effie Meyers (1906-1964), Plumsteadville, Pennsylvania. Gift of Francis G. Paul, 90.16.

In the early 1900s, American tobacco companies produced a variety of free tobacco premiums and souvenirs that were included with their products. One type of premium, the “tobacco silk,” also referred to as a “cigarette silk,” featured images of animals, U.S. presidents, college seals, and fraternal names and symbols. Manufacturers marketed the silks as collectible items that could be used to make quilts and other textiles. The silks, often made of satin, featured both printed and embroidered images.

The pillow cover to the right, in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection, is one example of how consumers may have used these silks. The pillow cover, made by the donor’s grandmother in the early 1900s, includes over fifty-five silks that feature the names of different universities and fraternal groups from across the United States. The fraternal silks include officer titles, jewels, and symbols from familiar groups like the Freemasons, Knights of Columbus, and Elks.

Detail, Tobacco Silk Pillow Cover, 1908-1915, Effie Meyers (1906-1964), Plumsteadville, Pennsylvania. Gift of Francis G. Paul, 90.16.

The names of two American tobacco companies active in the early 1900s, Egyptienne Luxury and Turkey Red, are woven at the bottom of the silks. Both companies capitalized on the popularity of Turkish and Egyptian cigarettes in Europe and America from the 1880s through World War I. The tobacco silk premium promotion was relatively short-lived. They were only included in packaging or as something consumers could send away for from about 1900 to 1915. The number and variety of fraternal groups included in silk promotion illustrates the popularity fraternal organizations enjoyed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Has someone in your family made a textile with tobacco silks? Do you have your own collection of fraternal silks? Let us know in the comments below.




Robert Forbes and Terence R. Mitchell, American Tobacco Cards: A Price Guide and Checklist, Wisconsin: Krause Publications, 1999.