Monday, November 11, 2013

The Spirit of ALA's Library War Service in WWI on Canvas

In 1919 after the end of World War I the American Library Association published a small book titled Books At Work In The War During The Armistice and After in which ALA tells the story in words and pictures of its role in providing library service during and after the War. One of the more dramatic illustrations in this publications is an image of a painting by Denman Fink of one soldier reading to another soldier who is in a wheel chair and whose eyes are covered with bandages. Nearby is a box of books with the ALA logo. A scan of that image from a copy of the books in my personal library is shown above. In trying to find out more about the painting I came across an article about Fink's painting in the January, 1919 issue of Library Journal by Frank Parker Stockbridge titled "The Spirit of Library War Service on Canvas". Fink's painting was one of seven paintings executed by well known artists on the steps of the New York Public Library during the 1919 United War Work Campaign. The painting was on a huge canvas that measured 9 x 17 feet. Stockbridge's article indicates that after being exhibited at the New York Public Library the painting was also to be exhibited in several large cities as part of ALA's efforts to appeal for books for wounded soldiers in hospitals and convalescent camps. The final resting place for the painting was to be the ALA Headquarters in Chicago. The ALA Archives at the University of Illinois has a glass slide related to the Fink painting. What eventually happened to the painting is unknown to me.

The blog for the New York Historical Society Museum & Library has a very nice post about the Library War Service of the American Library Association.

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