A few weeks ago, I put out a call for Finding Aid Friday ideas in WordPress’s Community Pool. Sarah, who runs Prejudice and Politics, suggested political propaganda. (Prejudice and Politics is a really awesome blog in which countries are personified as if they were drunks at a bar sharing sob stories. The post on Brexit is great. I won’t mind if you bail on me to read it.)
I really wanted to include some international collections, but I’m limited to English, high school Spanish, college Latin, and five words in Russian (one of which is better suited for sailors, not searching finding aids). And Google Translate is better at bringing the giggles than anything else, so… I’m stuck with collections held by American institutions. Please feel free to let me know of any great collections outside the 50 States.
Without further adieu, propaganda poster finding aids!
Cindy Domingo was an activist who organized on behalf of Asian-American and Philippino interests. She actively campaigned against the Marcos dictatorship, which ordered her brother’s death. When most Americans hear “propaganda,” we usually think of posters from the World Wars or Fox News, and not flyers regarding labor issues or foreign dictatorships, so this collection would put propaganda in a new light for many.
Her papers are held by the University of Washington Libraries and the finding aid has links to some digitized materials. You can zoom in, download, and save items to a favorites file.
Brandeis University has a great collection of American propaganda posters from World War I and World War II. The collection’s got a nifty finding aid, too.
Instead of a box list, there’s a components listing: alphabetized links to item-level descriptions of the art in the collection.
The finding aid links to the digital collection, where you can see all the fun stuff. Brandeis Special Collections Spotlight blog has a post on the collection that provides background and insight on the creation and purpose of these posters.
Finally, the Japanese Manchukuo Propaganda Poster Collection at Chapman University. The finding aid is viewable in PDF, HTML, or whichever format uses those newfangled frames.
Created by the Japanese for use after the Manchurian Invasion, these Chinese-language (the finding aid doesn’t specific which Chinese language, but I’m going to assume it’s Mandarin) posters promote the new regime. The titles alone are enough to crank modern bullshit meters up to 11.
The small collection of 21 posters was digitized and each item is described in a digital portal. They are very beautiful, but the light really dims when you recall history class and remember the purpose for their creation. These works are the exact opposite of what was conveyed in every single way.