CONSTRUCTION OF THIS ONLINE EXHIBIT IS STILL IN PROCESS, AS OF JUNE 27, 2008
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
The National Circulating Library of Students’ Peace Posters was founded and managed by Nancy Babb, who was a member of the Religious Society of Friends. At some point, Babb became interested in the graphic arts, especially in how artists during World War I used posters and postcards to convey a peace message (as opposed to their counterparts who were promoting the war effort). In 1938-1940 Babb spearheaded a movement to help students in schools across the United States express in poster form their longing for peace.
The National Circulating Library, based in Philadelphia (PA), held poster contests, found experts in their fields to judge them, and offered prizes for the winning entries. Posters were displayed in exhibits at the New Century Club; note the media attention given in newspaper photographs from 1937 and 1940 (the former even garnered a place next to news about Amelia Earhart’s flight around the world!). Eventually the prize-winning posters were reproduced as stamp-sized stickers sold by the sheet. The Swarthmore College Peace Collection owns 36 of the posters sent in for the contests, eight of which are displayed in this exhibit. A study of these posters indicate how the youth integrated the prevalent design elements, events (such as the No More War demonstrations in Europe), and propaganda that prevailed during World War I and the subsequent two decades.
To view all of the posters, see the online exhibit at http://www.swarthmore.edu/Library/peace/exhibits/ChildrensArt/ChildrensArtFull.
Art for World Friendship, an international exchange of children's art, was founded in 1946 by Maude Muller, of Media (PA), as a local project of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. It was the first organization to exchange children’s art on an international level, with nearly 90 nations and nearly every state in the U.S. participating. Artwork was created and exchanged by groups of students under the supervision of their teachers, but any child who individually sent a picture to Art for World Friendship received one in return to keep. Travelling exhibits of artwork from other countries were shown all over the U.S. and drew large crowds. All of this was managed out of Maude Muller’s home; by 1968 Mrs. Muller was too ill to continue and the project was discontinued.
The Swarthmore College Peace Collection owns over 1500 drawings and paintings created by children for Art for World Friendship. These show something of the children’s personal lives or something about their country that they thought would be of interest to a child elsewhere in the world. Only a small selection of this artwork, favorites of the exhibit’s curators, could be fit into this exhibit. For more images, see the online exhibits at http://www.swarthmore.edu/Library/peace/exhibits/ChildrensArt/smallworld (by Daisy Larios) and http://www.swarthmore.edu/Library/peace/exhibits/ChildrensArt/ChildrensArtFull. The SCPC holds the records of Art for World Friendship; to view the finding aid click here.