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Citizen Archivists

1 Post authored by: Daniel Dancis Expert

Discovering a poster in a photograph can help contextualize it and bring it to life. However, to do so may take some searching and a good bit of luck. The following is a case in point and one that had me doubting what I saw until everything was lined up just right. 


I recently came across this image in the National Archives Catalog, titled "Liberty Bonds - 4th Campaign - War activities, Ypsilanti, Michigan" (National Archives ID 45493771, Local ID 165-WW-244C-38)

This image is chock full of wall hangings and posters. I was able to identify four of the posters. The poster of the hand print appears twice, one on each sidewall (below).

By blowing up the picture to full size (click on the image or open in the Catalog), “Blot it Out” and “Keep these off the U.S.A” were fairly easy to identify. "That Liberty Shall Not Perish . . .(Statue of Liberty)" was more challenging because it is partially obscured by a bright lamp but enough of it is exposed to make identification possible. After identifying them in the photograph I then searched in the Catalog to find the posters. However, one of these was so distorted due to the perspective that it was difficult to know for sure.

I zoomed in on the poster in the photo and then searched in the World War I Posters series (4-P) for a likely match, but it wasn't until I compared the images side-by-side in a photo editing program and used a distortion tool that I knew for certain that I had found the exact poster.

Below is a sequence of identical side-by-side images zoomed in on the poster. On the right of each is the photograph with the poster superimposed at various stages of being compressed and stretched to fit. With just a few steps everything lines up!

Hopefully, this example demonstrates how rewarding it can be to find posters within photographs and that it can provide a unique way to ‘reunite’ different holdings from the National Archives.


You can see these posters and the photograph in the National Archives Catalog.