Agitate! Educate! Organize!: American Labor Posters

Lincoln Cushing, Author, Timothy W. Drescher, Author
Lincoln Cushing, Author, Timothy W. Drescher, Author ILR Press $24.95 (205p) ISBN 978-0-8014-7427-9
Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
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This valuable document collects a century of posters designed by labor organizers, for purposes ranging from workplace safety to equal pay for women. As editors Cushing and Drescher note in their introduction, the dearth of scholarship on U.S. labor posters lead them to make little commentary, content ""to indicate the potential for further investigations."" As such, the power of these designs retains a real sense of impact. Some are confrontational, like a Farm Labor Organizing poster featuring a drawing of a Campbell's soup can with a label reading ""Condemned: Cream of Exploitation."" A 1976 poster designed by Barbara Morgan bears the headline ""Your Job is Killing You,"" followed by statistics comparing the number of Americans killed on the job with the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. Posters about women workers feature original Rosie the Riveter designs, as well as one stating ""This Dept. Has Gone _____ Days With No Sexual Harassment."" More than 250 images attest to the editors' demand for further study. Even more so, it's simply fascinating viewing that produces a sharp sense of nostalgia for a time when powerful visual art could lead to real change for the victimized.
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