Propaganda posters: J. C. Leyendecker’s Uncle Sam at bat (fit for August)

July 28, 2012

Get in the game with Uncle Sam, WWI poster by J. C. Leyendecker, Museum of Play image

“Get in the Game with Uncle Sam” poster from World War I, by J. C. Leyendecker in 1917 — image from National Museum of Play

No matter how much the Texas State Board of Education wishes to run away from America’s heritage, we can’t.

Nor should we want to.

Propaganda is not a bad word.  There is bad propaganda, stuff that doesn’t work.  There is propaganda for bad purposes, stuff that promotes bad policies, or evil.  But good propaganda is stronger, long-lasting, often full of great artistic merit, and instructive.

Images of Uncle Sam provide clear pictures of what Americans were thinking, from the oldest versions to today.

This poster above is a World War I poster designed to convince Americans to get involved in the war effort.  J. C. Leyendecker, a noted illustrator, cast Uncle Sam as a baseball player up to bat.  The poster says simply, “Get in the game with Uncle Sam.”  Perhaps uniquely, this poster showed Sam in yellow-striped pants, instead of the more traditional red-striped.  Could an artist take such liberty today?

Nicolas Ricketts at the Strong Museum of National Play offered a good, concise description of the politics and history of the poster at the blog for the Museum (links added for your convenience):

Meanwhile, then-president Woodrow Wilson, who had won reelection in 1916 on an anti-war platform, faced the need for American participation in the terrible “Great War” raging in Europe. He and his cabinet knew that American involvement loomed. But how could the government convince the American public that this was necessary? One idea was to create a poster that urged Americans to metaphorically “Get in the Game,” along with their patriotic national symbol, Uncle Sam.

Artist J. C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) designed the poster, commissioned by the Publicity Committee of the Citizens Preparedness Association, a pro-war organization with federal support which also sponsored “preparedness parades” and other nationalistic activities. Leyendecker himself emigrated from Germany at age eight and was approaching the pinnacle of his career in 1917 when he created this work.

The poster just preceded James Montgomery Flagg’s famous “I Want You” image of Uncle Sam, which later became the best-known likeness of the country’s unofficial symbol. Leyendecker’s version, in spite of his baseball bat, is possibly less affable to contemporary eyes than Flagg’s friendlier Sam. But the bat he holds connected him to many Americans, who perhaps then decided that America should “get in the game.”

Some of this older propaganda had a humorous twist I think is too often missing from modern posters.  It was more effective for that, I think.

The image of Sam at bat shows up in many places in the internet world, but most often stripped of its identifying links to Leyendecker.  That does disservice to the art, to history, and to Leyendecker, who was one of our nation’s better illustrators for a very long time.

Visit the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

More posters, almost random, found through Zemanta:

English: Uncle Sam recruiting poster.

The most famous Uncle Sam recruiting poster, by James Montgomery Flagg (1917). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Montgomery Flagg 1917 poster: "Boys...

James Montgomery Flagg 1917 poster: “Boys and girls! You can help your Uncle Sam win the war – save your quarters, buy War Savings Stamps” / James Montgomery Flagg . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“Fighting to prevent this,” still – World War II poster

June 17, 2012

Think American Institute. “We’re Fighting to Prevent This.” Rochester, New York: Kelly Read, 1943. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Think American Institute. “We’re Fighting to Prevent This.” Rochester, New York: Kelly Read, 1943. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Both Republicans and Democrats might make a claim on this poster, today.

Propaganda for patriots, from World War II, from collections now held by the Library of Congress.


U.S. government propaganda circa 1943: “Don’t be a sucker”

January 22, 2012

If only the Republican Party still subscribed to these all-American, egalitarian values  . . .  A few sources say the film was intended to be an anti-racism film after the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces by President Harry Truman, and was not intended for general public viewing.  (Is it fair to say this is secret stuff?)  The Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) said the film was made in 1943, and reissued by the Defense Department later; good movies stay fresh:

Financed and produced by the United States War Department, and shot at the Warners [Bros.] studio, although it was distributed through all of the major studios’ film exchanges and also by National Screen Services free to the theatre exhibitors: A young, healthy American Free Mason is taken in by the message of a soap-box orator who asserts that all good jobs in the United States are being taken by the so-called minorities, domestic and foreign. He falls into a conversation with a refugee professor who tells him of the pattern of events that brought Hitler to power in Germany and how Germany’s anti-democratic groups split the country into helpless minorities, each hating the other. The professor concludes by pointing out that America is composed of many minorities, but all are united as Americans. (Reissued in 1946 following the end of World War II.) (Written by Les Adams)

From the Department of Defense in 1943 and 1946, “Don’t Be a Sucker,” about 18 minutes:

More, resources: 


Christy World War I poster to fetch more than $400 at auction

January 6, 2012

That’s a safe bet — the bid at the moment at Heritage Auctions is at $450.  How much is it worth?

Howard Chandler Christy World War I poster, 1918 - Third Liberty Loan - Heritage Auctions image

Howard Chandler Christy poster from 1918, for the Third Liberty Loan to finance World War I - Heritage Auctions image

Heritage Auctions describes the poster:

World War I Propaganda Poster by Howard Chandler Christy (Forbes, 1918). Third Liberty Loan Poster (20″ X 30″) “Fight or Buy Bonds.” War.
Howard Chandler Christy was so good at illustrating iconic beautiful women in uniquely styled poster art, that they soon became known as “Christy Girls.” He used some of these images to sell war bonds during WW I. His lovely art was instrumental in raising countless millions for the war effort. An unrestored poster with good color and an overall very presentable appearance. It may have tears, pinholes, edge wear, wrinkling, slight paper loss, and minor stains. Please see full-color, enlargeable image below for more details. Rolled, Fine+.

Posters from the wars are great teaching tools.  I tell my students to watch to see if their parents or grandparents have any of these old posters lying around.  $450 would buy books for a semester at college.

Heritage Auctions plans to sell this poster, and many others, this coming Sunday, January 8.


Cold War propaganda: “Make Mine Freedom,” 1948

October 10, 2011

Designed to promote democracy versus communism, and free enterprise (capitalism) over communism’s totalitarian governments then in vogue in the Eastern Bloc, this film was targeted to young college students who did not have the opportunity to fight for freedom in World War II.  “Make Mine Freedom” was produced by Harding College in 1948, preserved by the Prelinger Archives.

Is it a bit heavy handed? Is this an accurate portrait of economic or political freedom?  Are the characters in this animated short movie quite stereotyped?

In Blogylvania, the movie has been seized on as a sort of parable for our times.  Those bloggers who say it is a parable see a lot more in the movie than I do.  Almost any Lewis Hine photograph of child labor should be a good rebuttal.  Some say it seemed far-fetched in 1948 (then why did anyone bother to make it?).  It’s much, much more far-fetched now.

It’s a good departure point for discussions about propaganda in the Cold War.

Harding College resides in Searcy, Arkansas, and is affiliated with the Church of Christ.  It is now Harding University.


Propaganda posters: J. C. Leyendecker’s Uncle Sam at bat

August 28, 2011

 

Get in the game with Uncle Sam, WWI poster by J. C. Leyendecker, Museum of Play image

“Get in the Game with Uncle Sam” poster from World War I, by J. C. Leyendecker — image from National Museum of Play

No matter how much the Texas State Board of Education wishes to run away from America’s heritage, we can’t.

Nor should we want to.

Propaganda is not a bad word.  There is bad propaganda, stuff that doesn’t work.  There is propaganda for bad purposes, stuff that promotes bad policies, or evil.  But good propaganda is stronger, long-lasting, often full of great artistic merit, and instructive.

Images of Uncle Sam provide clear pictures of what Americans were thinking, from the oldest versions to today.

This poster above is a World War I poster designed to convince Americans to get involved in the war effort.  J. C. Leyendecker, a noted illustrator, casts Uncle Sam as a baseball player up to bat.  The poster says simply, “Get in the game with Uncle Sam.”  Perhaps uniquely, this poster showed Sam in yellow-striped pants, instead of the more traditional red-striped.  Could an artist take such liberty today?

Nicolas Ricketts at the Strong Museum of National Play offered a good, concise description of the politics and history of the poster at the blog for the Museum:

Meanwhile, then-president Woodrow Wilson, who had won reelection in 1916 on an anti-war platform, faced the need for American participation in the terrible “Great War” raging in Europe. He and his cabinet knew that American involvement loomed. But how could the government convince the American public that this was necessary? One idea was to create a poster that urged Americans to metaphorically “Get in the Game,” along with their patriotic national symbol, Uncle Sam.

Artist J. C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) designed the poster, commissioned by the Publicity Committee of the Citizens Preparedness Association, a pro-war organization with federal support which also sponsored “preparedness parades” and other nationalistic activities. Leyendecker himself emigrated from Germany at age eight and was approaching the pinnacle of his career in 1917 when he created this work.

The poster just preceded James Montgomery Flagg’s famous “I Want You” image of Uncle Sam, which later became the best-known likeness of the country’s unofficial symbol. Leyendecker’s version, in spite of his baseball bat, is possibly less affable to contemporary eyes than Flagg’s friendlier Sam. But the bat he holds connected him to many Americans, who perhaps then decided that America should “get in the game.”

Some of this older propaganda had a humorous twist I think is too often missing from modern posters.  It was more effective for that, I think.

The image of Sam at bat shows up in many places in the internet world, but most often stripped of its identifying links to Leyendecker.  That does disservice to the art, to history, and to Leyendecker, who was one of our nation’s better illustrators for a very long time.

Visit the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

 


Sideshow of DDT and malaria

August 23, 2011

Not exactly a DDT/Malaria carnival.  Just enough for a sideshow.

First, the controversy over use of DDT in Uganda continues, even as DDT is applied daily there.  This demonstrates that DDT remains freely available for use in Africa.  It also demonstrates that Africans are not clamoring for more DDT.

Uganda offers a key proving ground for the propaganda campaign against environmentalists, against scientist, against medical care officials, and for DDT.  Though malaria plagues Uganda today and has done so for the past 200 years at least, it was not a target of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) campaign to eradicate malaria in the 1950s and 1960s, because the nation lacked the governmental structures to mount an effective campaign.  DDT was used to temporarily knock down mosquito populations, so that medical care could be improved quickly and malaria cured among humans.  Then, when the mosquitoes came roaring back as they always do with DDT, there would be no pool of the disease in humans from which the mosquitoes could get infected.  End of malaria problem.

Plus, for a too-long period of time, Uganda was ruled by the brutal dictator Idi Amin.  No serious anti-malaria campaigns could be conducted there, then.

Uganda today exports cotton and tobacco.  Cotton and tobacco interests claim they cannot allow any DDT use, because, they claim, European Union rules would then require that the tobacco and cotton imports be banned from Europe.  I can’t find any rules that require such a ban, and there are precious few incidents that suggest trace DDT residues would be a problem, but this idea contributes to the political turmoil in Uganda.  Businessmen there sued to stop the use of even the small amounts of DDT used for indoor residual spraying (IRS) in modern campaigns.  They lost.  DDT use continues in Uganda, with no evidence that more DDT would help a whit.

Malaria campaign posters from World War II, South Pacific - Mother Jones compilation

Much of the anti-malaria campaign aimed at soldiers, to convince them to use Atabrine, a preventive drug, or to use nets, or just to stay covered up at night, to prevent mosquito bites. Mother Jones compilation of posters and photos.

Second, the website for Mother Jones magazine includes a wonderful 12-slide presentation on DDT in history.  Malaria took out U.S. troops more effectively than the Japanese in some assaults in World War II.  DDT appeared to be a truly great miracle when it was used on some South Pacific islands.  Particularly interesting are the posters trying to get soldiers to help prevent the disease, some done by the World War II-ubiquitous Dr. Seuss.  Good history, there.  Warning:  Portrayals of Japanese are racist by post-War standards.

Third, a new book takes a look at the modern campaigns against malaria, those that use tactics other than DDT.  These campaigns have produced good results, leading some to hope for control of malaria, and leading Bill Gates, one of the biggest investors in anti-malaria campaigns, to kindle hopes of malaria eradication again.  Here is the New York Times  review of  Alex Perry’s Lifeblood: How to Change the World One Dead Mosquito at a Time (PublicAffairs, $25.99).   Perry is chief Africa correspondent for Time Magazine.

This little gem of a book heartens the reader by showing how eagerly an array of American billionaires, including Bill Gates and the New Jersey investor Ray Chambers (the book’s protagonist), are using concepts of efficient management to improve the rest of the world. “Lifeblood” nominally chronicles the global effort to eradicate malaria, but it is really about changes that Mr. Chambers, Mr. Gates and others are bringing to the chronically mismanaged system of foreign aid, especially in Africa.

These three snippets of reporting, snapshots of the worldwide war on malaria, all diverge dramatically from the usual false claims we see that, but for ‘environmentalist’s unholy and unjust war on DDT,’ millions or billions of African children could have been saved from death by malaria.

The real stories are more complex, less strident, and ultimately more hopeful.


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