What You Can Find in the Library Part VIII: Posters and Broadsides

Hannah D. Cox, Archivist/Librarian

We hope you have enjoyed our highlights from the Library’s collections! While we have much more to offer researchers, including books, newspapers, periodicals, and other more familiar kinds of library materials, we have to wrap up somewhere! In this final installment of our What You Can Find in the Library series, we will look at a few of the posters and broadsides in the Library’s collection. The Library holds many posters and broadsides, most of which fall into one of the following categories: General Collection, the DeWitt Clinton Broadside Collectionand the World War I Posters. 
Mr. Sherman's Menagerie, 1834
Mr. Sherman's Menagerie, 1834

General Collection Posters

The General Collection Posters include over 400 advertising posters, entertainment posters, campaign posters, missing persons posters, and much more from the 16th Century to the present time. These are used in a variety of ways by researchers and can help them understand how a company viewed and desired to portray itself; to understand the kinds of events in an area during a particular time, including those of a small-scale that might not make an appearance elsewhere; who was being promoted for election to an office and sometimes why; and the lengths to which people or the government would go for a missing person’s return, as well as descriptive information about the person. 
Left to right: Hair, the American Tribal-Love Rock Musical, printed 1868; Lost Children!, 1850; McKnight's Brown Stout Porter, 1859

DeWitt Clinton Broadsides Collection

The DeWitt Clinton Broadsides Collection includes over 100 broadsides collected by former New York State Governor DeWitt Clinton. A broadside is a single sheet document with information printed on one side, thus enabling it to be posted to a wall or easily handed out. Ranging in date from 1775 to 1813, these are some of the earliest political broadsides known to exist anywhere.  
This Fall and into the early Spring of 2021, the Albany Institute of History & Art will have several of these broadsides on display in the exhibition Fellow Citizens! Broadsides of the Early Republicwhich will examine the context in which these broadsides were written, to whom the message was crafted to appeal, the language used by the various authors to convince the people of their righteousness, and why some people were left out of the story.  

World War I Posters

The World War I Poster and Graphic Collection consists of 774 posters and advertisements collected by former Albany historian and Albany Institute curator and director, Cuyler Reynolds. Reynolds collected materials in support of the war effort on such topics as propaganda, fundraising, patriotism, fear mongering, enlistment, rationing, recruitment, entertainment, and suffrage. Through these, researchers can learn how World War I was promoted to young men going off to fight, as well as those who remained at home. While some World War I posters are fairly light-hearted, some are dark indeed, and researchers can use these in conjunction with what was happening at that time during the war to better understand things like changes in recruitment efforts or rationing at home.
Left: "Vote for Woman Suffrage, November 6th, there is work to be done and the women will do it," circa 1917. Right: You'll Be Uncomfortable Without Your Honor Button, 4th Liberty Loan, 1918.
While this series has now ended, we will continue adding posts as we obtain new collections, open collections for research, or have other interesting news from the Library. As always, please contact us with any questions, and we look forward to seeing you again after the museum reopens! 
21 May 2020