Propaganda posters constitute some of the most dramatic documents of Spain’s civil war. Drawings made by Spanish children during the war are some of the most poignant. Produced during the 1936-1939 conflict, the posters provided an essential element of the visual landscape while the children’s drawings were used in international efforts to raise funds to support young war victims.
The Spanish Civil War began in July 1936, when a group of right-wing military officers staged a coup against the constitutional government of the Spanish Republic. The rebellion against the Republic initially succeeded in approximately one-third of the country, but was resisted in most of Spain, including the major cities of Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Militias organized by radical trade unions led the resistance, and the Republic urged the populace to enlist in the militias.
With the press and radio, posters were a principal means of gaining Republican support, and many of Spain’s leading artists helped create them. While the bold graphics on the posters “shout” from the walls, the children’s drawings are quiet reflections of lives disrupted by war or of personal themes removed from the political context in which they were created.
Drawn by Spanish children in schools and refugee colonies in southern France, the drawings were sponsored by the Spanish Board of Education and the Carnegie Institute of Spain. The number of drawings is unknown, but UC San Diego holds more than 600, certainly the bulk of those that survived the war.
UC San Diego’s Southworth Spanish Civil War Collection is the world’s most extensive collection on this subject. Hebert Southworth, an American journalist, amassed much of this material during the Spanish Civil War as he was closely associated with the Republican government. Modern Spain remains a focus of UC San Diego’s Department of History, and much of this material is unavailable elsewhere. All materials on view are drawn from the Library’s Special Collections & Archives.
Image Credit: UC San Diego Special Collections & Archives
Image Description: A propaganda poster from the Spanish Civil War.