U.Va. Library Exhibition
For Immediate Release
October 18, 2010
New Exhibit Celebrates 100th Anniversary of the U.Va. Library as a Federal Depository Library
"'An Army of 100,000,000': Celebrating 100 Years of Government Information at U.Va." Exhibition, October 18, 2010, through January 15, 2011
The U.S. government has a long history of working with libraries to ensure that citizens have access to government information and publications. In 1813 Congress authorized the distribution of its journals and other publications to certain libraries, colleges and universities in each state and territory [3 Stat. 140]. The U.S. federal government depository library program was formally established in 1860, and in 1910 U.Va.’s Alderman Library was given the designation.
An exhibition in the Small Special Collections Library, “’An Army of 100,000,000’: 100 Years of Government Information at U.Va.” celebrates the centennial of U.Va. being a federal government depository library. The exhibit presents government publications from 1910, which was also a period when the government’s “Committee on Public Information’s Division of Pictorial Publicity” was encouraging citizens to support the World War I effort. The exhibit includes posters, pamphlets, and other materials that document the government’s public relations blitz before, during, and after World War I.
Alderman began receiving regular shipments of government documents from the Government Printing Office in 1910. “We still have the original check-in records for the materials received in 1910,” says Documents Librarian Barbie Selby. “Two of the items in our exhibit are a pamphlet aimed at ministers, together with U.Va.’s record of receipt of that item.”
Particularly striking are the posters. Exhibit curator Amy Jacobs, a graduate student in 20th-century American cultural history, says “Many images and messages we associate with the Great War were made famous because of the extensive poster campaigns the government relied on to garner needed public support for the war. The posters chosen for this exhibit demonstrate the myriad ways the government conveyed those messages to induce Americans to change their ways of living in the interests of a nation at war. They not only allow us to examine the American culture of WWI, they remind us of the valuable role depository libraries play in granting us access to that culture.”
The federal depository library program comprises about 1200 libraries around the country. Some of these libraries, like Alderman, are “regional” depositories, and receive all the publications publically available from the U.S. government. Others, like Virginia Tech, James Madison, and William & Mary, are “selectives” and receive a selected set of U.S. government materials. All provide the public access to U.S. government information, both in print and online, and offer assistance in locating government information. Government documents staff at Alderman Library help citizens find statistics, tax forms, census records, presidential speeches, and congressional hearings, and also advise on more extensive research projects.
Despite the online availability of the vast majority of U.S. government information, depository libraries still receive many items in print. U.Va.’s Alderman Library continues its legacy of service by maintaining the regional depository collection and by acting as a resource for the selective depositories in Virginia.
The exhibit opens on October 18, 2010 and closes in early January 2011. It is on display in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library and is open during regular library hours. Admission is free.
For hours and other information about the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library:
"An Army of 100,000,000" Images
Boys and Girls! James Montgomery Flagg (1918) Inspired by British illustrator Alfred Leete’s design for a 1914 recruitment poster, famed American poster artist James Montgomery Flagg used his own self-portrait to create the nation’s most famous image of Uncle Sam, pointedly saying “I Want You for the U.S. Army.” Flagg’s self-portrait became the image of Uncle Sam replicated in millions of posters for both WWI and WWII.
Sow the Seeds of Victory! James Montgomery Flagg (1918)
The red Liberty Cap, or Phrygian cap, worn by Columbia, the personification of America, was an ancient Roman symbol of freedom from tyranny. Ancient Romans were known to have given the cap to freed slaves. Adopted in the late 18th century as a revolutionary icon in France, the symbol was also prominent on early American coins and can be seen today on the official seal of the United States Senate.
Eat More Cornmeal Adolph Treidler (1917)
In concert with other food conservation efforts, the Women’s Land Army set up training schools throughout the nation to teach women how to operate small-scale farms—how to grow and harvest crops, manage livestock, and preserve food. The University of Virginia became one of the largest WLA training schools in the nation, and Grounds became a central site of food production and conservation for Charlottesville during WWI.
Get Behind our Soldiers Rienecke Beckman (1917)
Before becoming the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover coordinated a massive effort to help feed starving citizens of France and Belgium in the early years of WWI. From London Hoover negotiated over $100 million in loans from belligerent nations to feed starving Europeans. In addition to the worldwide fund-raising network, Hoover secured food from producers around the globe including the United States, Burma, Manchuria, and Argentina. In May 1917 Hoover was appointed to head the U.S. Food Administration and in that role he directed food conservation efforts at home, known popularly as “Hooverizing.”
And They Thought We Couldn’t Fight Clyde Forsythe (1919)
Although he designed one of the most popular posters of the Victory Liberty Loan campaign, displayed extensively at home and abroad, artist Clyde Forsythe is known not for his work, but for introducing little known artist Norman Rockwell to his employers at the Saturday Evening Post.