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Guide to the Tamiment Library Poster and Broadside Collection GRAPHICS.002

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Collection processed by Mary Allison Farley, 1991 and Erika Gottfried, 2009; Physical rehousing performed by Kate Phillips and Margaret Fraser; finding aid edited to reflect new physical arrangement by Bonnie Gordon and Rachel Searcy (2013)

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on September 11, 2018
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Updated by Megan O'Shea to incorporate artwork being sent to offsite art storage in September 2017.  , August 2017

Scope and Content Note

The 2,165 posters and broadsides in the Tamiment/Wagner Poster and Broadside Collection relate to left-radicalism, progressive movements, labor unions and the counter-culture. Most were produced in the United States, but a significant number of posters on these same subjects from other countries are also included. Information on dates of individual items is scanty, but the approximate date-span for the collection is from 1904 to 1991, with the bulk of the material falling between 1970 and 1990.

U.S.-produced posters in the collection represent a broad range of left political parties, including the Communist Party of the United States, various Socialist parties, and some less well-known political organizations such as the American Labor Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, and the Workers Party. Primary thematic subjects include: black power and civil rights (includes posters produced by or for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee [SNCC], Black Panther Party, the Fort Hood soldiers, the Baraka Defense Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference [SCLC], and the A. Philip Randolph Institute), the women's liberation movement (includes material on the struggle for the Equal Rights Amendment, the National Organization for Women, and women of color), Native American and gay liberation movements, anti-Vietnam War movements (includes posters on G.I. groups such as the Fort Dix 38, the Fort Jackson G.I.'s against the War and later, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, other peace and disarmament movements, student protest (including posters produced by different factions of Students for a Democratic Society [SDS]), and the labor movement (represented by posters from a broad range of labor unions, and including boycotts such as those against grapes by the United Federation of Farm Workers, the Farah Pants boycott sponsored by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and the boycott against Trans World Airlines led by the Independent Federation of Flight Attendants). The collection also holds posters on more general topics such as housing and public transit that intersect with social and political issues, as well as a small group of posters that illustrate pro-Vietnam War, anti-radical and anti-labor points of view.

Among the earliest U.S. posters in the collection are a 1920 Presidential campaign poster for Eugene V. Debs, Socialist Party candidate (who ran while imprisoned in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for statements he had made opposing World War I), and a series designed by artist Ben Shahn for the federal Office of Price Administration during the Second World War on such issues as rent and price controls and rationing.

In addition to the United States, more than 30 countries are represented in the collection. Some of the largest groupings of non-U.S. posters come from the People's Republic of China, Cuba, the former Czechoslovak Republic, Great Britain, Spain, and Japan.

Most of the ca. 35 Spanish posters in the collection were produced by different (and sometimes opposing) leftist political parties, labor unions, and other organizations that supported the Spanish Republican government during Spain's Civil War from 1936 to 1938, including those issued by the anarchist-affiliated Consejo de la Escuela Nueva Unificada (CENU), Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI), and Federación Ibérica de Juventudes Libertarias; the Socialist Partido Socialista Obrero Espagnol and Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT); and a Communist splinter party, Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM). Cuban posters in the collection were mostly produced by a Cuban government-sponsored organization: the Organizacion de la Solaridad de los Pueblos de Africa, Asia y Latinoamerica (OSPAAL). Most of the Czech posters in the collection were produced by the International Union of Students, a group sponsored by the government of the former Czechoslovak Republic, while those from the United Kingdom were produced mainly by the Poster Film Collective, a London-based political and cultural organization. Posters from these four organizations cover an extremely broad range of international issues. OSPAAL and OCLAE (Organización Continental Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Estudiantes) posters, for example, include those on the Cuban revolution, anti-imperialism, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Vietnam; Chile, Peru, and Angola, and the Venceremos Brigade (an organization made up of American students recruited to assist in harvesting Cuba's sugar cane crop). Posters from the Poster Film Collective focus on the building of China under Mao Tse-Tung and anti-imperialist liberation struggles world-wide--particularly in Northern Ireland and Africa--and feature quotations from Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao. Other posters from Great Britain include those promoting its Labour Party (both early original posters and later reproductions of early originals.

Other international holdings include posters from FRELIMO, the independence and liberation movement in Mozambique; from Japan on the subject of disarmament (many produced by the Peace Wave Action Committee); and from Communist Parties around the world, including France, Italy, the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, and Czechoslovakia.

All posters (and the titles of the folders in which they are stored) have been assigned two primary classifications—first, a geographic classification corresponding to the country, continent, or region in which they were published (including now-defunct political entities, such as the Soviet Union, and broad geo-political regions such as Central America, the Middle East, and the Caribbean), and second, a broad topical heading based on their contents or theme and/or the artist or organization that produced it. Secondary subject headings have been assigned as appropriate, and country names may be used both for a poster's country of origin and as a topic. Where folder titles that include country or region names are followed by "general" this means that the posters they contain are concerned with issues that that have to do with the politics and problems of that country, while folder titles with country names followed by "non-[name of the country]" denote that the posters they contain, although produced in the named country, do not represent themes related to that country.

Since one item may often concern more than one subject, person, organization, in addition to the list of titles of folders that make up the container list for the collection, a cross-reference list that lists individual posters, follows. It is divided into four sections: names of organizations (including publications, titles of which are italicized), subjects, place names, and personal names (the person may be pictured, referred to, quoted, or the poster may have been produced by this person). Each poster has been assigned a unique individual number (which should be referenced when contacting the Tamiment Library for inquiries about specific posters, and used as part of citations and captions). Researchers are therefore advised to first locate the folder in which they may find a group of posters on a specific topic, and to consult the cross-reference list for additional specific posters on this (and allied) topics as well.

Please note that in addition to this finding aid, another important resource for using this collection is that more than three-quarters of the items in it are displayed online via the ARTstor website hosted by New York University's Bobst Library. This portion of the collection may be be viewed by researchers affiliated with New York University by going to and proceeding to "Browse -- Institutional Collections -- Tamiment/Wagner Poster and Broadside Collection," and may be searched by subject, artist, as well as by individual poster number. (Researchers not affiliated with NYU may view these images while onsite at the Tamiment Library only.)


Organized into two geographical series: I: United States; II: Other Countries--based on country of production of the posters. Folders within the United States series are arranged alphabetically by topic, and folders within the Other Countries series are arranged alphabetically by the name of the country of production, and then alphabetically by topic within each country.