Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ (CUL/IS) Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is pleased to announce the exhibition, The European Home Front in WWI: Posters from the Frankenhuis Collection. The exhibition opens today and will run until September 12, 2014.
The items on display are from the RBML’s collection of Maurice Frankenhuis (1893 – 1969), a Dutch businessman and collector of historical memorabilia. He began to acquire posters, coins, and medals during WWI, then sold the coins and medals to support his family while in hiding from the Nazis during WWII. His family was discovered in 1944 and spent the remainder of the war in concentration camps. The poster collection was ransacked by Germans while in storage in an Amsterdam warehouse, and the remaining posters were brought back to New York by Frankenhuis in 1948. The collection of the surviving posters was given to the RBML by his grandsons in 1975.
In this period of history, posters were an important and effective means of mass communication and persuasion. During WWI, posters such as those in this exhibition promulgated news and regulations, built morale, encouraged enlistment and other war work, and solicited contributions of goods and services.
“While some posters are starkly typographic, many use illustration and design to persuade,” said Jane Rodgers Siegel, curator. “In this exhibition, posters were chosen to show their broad variety, giving some attention to the plainly informative, but with an emphasis on the eye-catching.”
The collection contains approximately 4,800 posters. Roughly 3,500 of those were made for use in Germany and Austria and areas they occupied. The remainder of the collection is from all over the world, including 300 each from the United States, the British Empire, and France, over a hundred from the Netherlands, and small numbers from Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium. Languages include Arabic, Belarusian, Czech, Dutch, English, Flemish, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Yiddish.
Columbia University Libraries is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 13 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff and hosts over 4.7 million visitors each year. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.