In the foreground of one 1940 illustration stands a woman in pink, smiling pleasantly at a colorful brochure. In the yard behind her, a man and young boy appear to be fishing. The American Airlines-sponsored message below the scene reads, "Vacations are for Father but … Mother makes the plans!" In another illustration from a decade earlier, a woman clutches a gun in her gloved hand and stares down the reader of Amazing Detective Stories.
These contrasting 20th-century magazine depictions of women are just two highlights among a throng of visual materials currently on display in Olin Library's Grand Staircase Lobby (Level 1). (Earlier in September, the materials were on display in the lower level of the Kemper Art Museum building). The exhibit is housed in three glass cases, each of them containing lively, full-color reproductions of materials from the Modern Graphic History Library (MGHL), a unit of Washington University Libraries. The exhibit will remain on display through October 11.
"With this exhibit, we wanted to make connections between topics in scholarly research and the visual materials in the Modern Graphic History Library," says Skye Lacerte, curator of the MGHL. "By displaying images in this context, we hope to encourage members of the Washington University community and campus visitors to discover relationships between their areas of study and the unique materials available to them in our library."
MGHL assistant Kristin Flachsbart curated the project, which showcases three broad areas of scholarship in relation to MGHL collections: women and popular culture; race, ethnicity, and identity; and advertising. Each section of the exhibit also includes a QR code linking to a related research guide online: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity at the MGHL, Women and Popular Culture at the MGHL, and Advertisements at the MGHL.
Comprised of original art and printed material from many fields of popular American pictorial graphic culture, the MGHL focuses on 20th-century illustration. To learn more about the collections, visit the website, explore the MGHL blog, or stop by in person at the West Campus Library, a half-mile west of the Danforth Campus, between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Photo information: Clockwise from upper left are a Kellogg’s advertisement from a 1910 issue of Ladies' Home Journal, “Sealed Power Piston Rings” by Robert O. Reid (1941), a 1918 Delineator advertisement for O-Cedar furniture polish, and the cover of a 1994 issue of Barb Wire (pencils by Lee Moder, inks by Andre Parks). These are just a few of the wide-ranging materials preserved and made accessible by the Modern Graphic History Library.