Picture This: Sounding the Call, for Sounds

Sounding the Call, for Sounds
By Melissa Lindberg

The following is a guest post by Hanna Soltys, Reference Librarian, Prints & Photographs Division.

A good research quest often leads you to unexpected finds and drops you right at the edge of a rabbit hole. While working through the topic of listening (the subject of a previous blog post), two World War I posters caught my eye, and my curiosity demanded to know more.

I had known of book drives to keep soldiers entertained, though had no knowledge of record drives, often known as "slacker record drives." Here we see one of the posters calling for records, and another showing the need to raise funds to purchase equipment and records:

Now for some music. Poster by Charles Buckles Falls, 1917. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g10035

Now for some music. Poster by Charles Buckles Falls, 1917. http://bit.ly/2v1A2lA

War-zone home for our boys "over there"… Poster by John F. Butler: Globe Lithographing Company, New York, 1917. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g08377

War-zone home for our boys "over there"… Poster by John F. Butler: Globe Lithographing Company, New York, 1917. http://bit.ly/2P3uIaK

Posters helped drum up interest and support for collecting and distributing listening materials (records, needles, phonographs) to soldiers. Browsing through historic newspaper articles in Chronicling America provided insight on how individual states and towns advertised local participation. This 1918 article from The Bismarck Tribune discusses an event after a flu outbreak canceled previous plans:

Recruiting of Slacker Record Army has Begun. Detail from The Bismarck Tribune, November 18, 1918, p. 5 https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042243/1918-11-18/ed-1/seq-5/

Recruiting of Slacker Record Army has Begun. Detail from The Bismarck Tribune, November 18, 1918, p. 5 http://bit.ly/2uWzKfS

Did these advertisements and town events pay off? The American Red Cross Collection helped me connect some dots to determine how popular and available phonographs were during the Great War.

American Red Cross Rest House at Milan. Soldiers listening to phonograph. Photo, 1918. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.07722

American Red Cross Rest House at Milan. Soldiers listening to phonograph, 1918. http://bit.ly/2X9uf9T

Two nurses of the Via Giusti Home for Refugees of the American Red Cross holding two of the tiny refugees… Photo, 1919. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.02835

Two nurses of the Via Giusti Home for Refugees of the American Red Cross holding two of the tiny refugees. The busy phonograph in the American Red Cross Via Giusti Home. Milan does its best to wipe the sound of German Guns from the little ears. For he was the place of refuge for hundreds of Italian Mothers and children who fled from ruined homes along the Isonzo …, 1919. http://bit.ly/2IcKwan

The Red Cross's caption for this photo really spelled out the need for records and equipment, seen here at a canteen in Italy.

At an ARC "Posto di Conforio." The gramaphone is in great demand. Photo, 1918. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.01968

At an ARC "Posto di Conforio." The gramaphone is in great demand, 1918. http://bit.ly/2X9ufGV

A research topic discovering a poster with a phonograph quickly led to a deeper understanding (and knowledge) of slacker record drives, thanks to Library of Congress resources. Now that's quite a harmonious find.

Learn More:



Published April 11, 2019 at 01:46PM
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