Digitized Propaganda Posters Bring Wartime to Life

This 1943 poster, created by Bernard Perlin and distributed by the Office of War Information, was scanned on a Zeutschel 14000 overhead scanner at 600 dpi as part of the digitization of Washington State University’s Propaganda Poster Collection SC005
This 1943 poster, created by Bernard Perlin and distributed by the Office of War Information, was scanned on a Zeutschel 14000 overhead scanner at 600 dpi as part of the digitization of Washington State University’s Propaganda Poster Collection SC005

As we looked for just the right Crowley tie-in with Monday’s Veterans Day celebration, we came across the following webpage from Washington State University (WSU). The page, which features WSU Libraries Digital Collections, discusses the digitization of propaganda posters from the World Wars. These posters are a unique reminder of a time when the sacrifices of war extended beyond the battlefield to each citizen’s front door. They also remind us at Crowley how grateful we are to those who serve today and to those who fought for earlier freedoms. Thank you to our Veterans.

The collection is being scanned at WSU on a state-of-the-art Zeutschel OS 14000 planetary scanner, which is also being used by the Libraries to scan maps and student newspaper archives. Currently, three students are trained to operate the overhead scanner. “The ability to lock settings and create custom defaults,” states Trevor Bond, Head of Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, “allows us the flexibility of using multiple operators on a single project.” Bond also notes that the Zeutschel was purchased as a result of the leadership of the WSU Libraries Council and private donations from more than 80 generous friends of the WSU Libraries.

The following is a direct reprint of the webpage. [1]

The Collection

The 520 items in this collection comprise a Propaganda Poster collection primarily consisting of images from 1914-1945, the start of World War I to the end of World War II.  Prior to the advent of broadcast radio and television, governments looked to other media to communicate information to their citizens.  One of the most eye-catching formats is the propaganda poster, the use of which peaked during World War I and remained pervasive through World War II.  The U.S. government alone produced an estimated 20,000,000 copies of more than 2,500 distinct posters during the first World War.  Through these “weapons on the wall,” governments persuaded their citizens to participate in a variety of patriotic functions, from pur­chasing war bonds to conserving scarce resources. These posters also strengthened public support for the wars by providing “message control” about the government’s allies and enemies.

The posters…were collected by the Washington State University Libraries, dating back into the 1910s.  They became part of the College’s War Library, a collection of rare books, pamphlets, posters, and other ephemera, shortly after that was established in 1937-1938, and then moved to the University’s Special Collections when that came into existence.  Over the intervening years, the collection has continued to grow through donations from a number of benefactors.  In 2009, 299 of these images from several collections of these were combined and described by Manuscripts Librarian Cheryl Gunselman and student Amy Sabourin as Special Collection 005. An additional 221 images, primarily from post-WWII France, were described and added to the collection in 2013 by student Morgan Clendenning.

Searching the Collection

Entering search terms in the “Search” box located at the top of the page will search across all of the database fields.  The “Browse This Collection” link will display all items in an alphabetical order. Search results are displayed as a series of thumbnail images that may be browsed, both forward and backward. To view an item description, double click on the thumbnail or the textual link. Any highlighted text in the description below each full-size image is searchable; just click. Options to return to the Collection Home or the WSU Digital Collections are provided along the top banner.

Creating the Database

Katrina Burch, Morgan Clendenning, and Mirra Moran scanned original prints as 600 dpi TIFF files on a Zeutschel OS 14000 A0-LS scanner. Upon uploading into CONTENTdm, they were reformatted into JPEG-2000 files.  University Archivist Mark O’English supervised the project, adapted metadata, and created the webpage. Cindy Ellis and Alex Merrill provided technical support for CONTENTdm. Doug Lambeth created the metadata schema with Mark O’English and provided CONTENTdm aid.  Jessica Bailey designed the page’s banner.

About Crowley

Since its inception more than 30 years ago, The Crowley Company has earned the respect of renowned archivists, institutions, service bureaus, libraries, private collectors, corporations and governments for a wide range of analog and digital imaging solutions. For specifics on scanning equipment and conversion services, please visit our website.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact The Crowley Company by calling (240) 215-0224. General inquiries can be emailed to [email protected]. You can also follow The Crowley Company on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube.

[1] http://content.wsulibs.wsu.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/propaganda

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