Visual Index (Entire Poster Collection)


Chronology of the War


Lists of References

Afterword: Herbert R. Southworth Collection


Libros y Periodicos al Frente

[Books and Newspapers to the Front]. Oficina de recogida Delegación de propaganda y prensa, Medinaceli 2. Signed: Espert. Junta Delegada de Defensa de Madrid, Delegación de Propaganda y Prensa. Gráficas Reunidas, U.H.P, Madrid. Lithograph, 4 colors; 105 x 76 cm.

This poster advertises a book depository where residents of Madrid were encouraged to bring books and newspapers. The Office for Press and Propaganda would then distribute the materials to the soldiers at the front. The image is composed of a large open book with rose-colored pages which seems to levitate above a soldier wearing a havelock and cape. The soldier appears to be distinguished and proud of his literacy. This type of depiction was characteristic of Espert, the artist who designed this poster. Espert tried to convey the notion that learned or cultured soldiers are not only smarter, but better soldiers. Espert worked with Izquierda Republicana, and with the Committee for the Defense of Madrid. The poster was released in Madrid, most likely between November 31, 1936, when the issuing entity, the Delegated Committee for the Defense of Madrid, was instituted, and April 21, 1937, when it was dissolved.

While most propaganda posters of the Spanish Civil War tried to pump up morale or denounce the Nationalists in some general way, this poster has the specific purpose of informing Madrid residents of the place to bring their books. The poster neither makes lofty claims regarding the social revolution nor states that literacy can defeat Franco's troops, but it is effective in suggesting what residents in the rearguard can do to help those who fight the war. The transportation of books, newspapers, and cartillas de combatiente (writing kits that included paper and writing utensils) to the soldiers at the front was a service offered not only by the Delegated Committee for the Defense of Madrid, but also by other charity organizations such as International Red Aid. These organizations sought to nurture the new reading and writing proficiency attained by the soldiers during the Second Republic's literacy campaigns and educational reforms.

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