About a month ago, I was on a video call with members of the Humboldt Bay CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and one of the members was talking about the necessity of planting a garden in case grocery supply chains were heavily impacted by the current COVID crisis. He mentioned that they worked similar to Victory Gardens in WWII. A few days later, I saw an advertisement somewhere by some garden supply company encouraging people to plant their Victory Gardens, no doubt as some kind of relief from Shelter in Place boredom for customers and slowing sales for the company. I remembered seeing some kind of Victory Garden posters that were produced in WWII, and I was pretty sure were in the Clarke collections. It’s interesting to see when little snippets of history, often disguised as nostalgia pop up here and there, especially in advertising. It’s a powerful tool. Thanks to Mad Men for helping me become more cognizant of that.
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Last week, I went by the Humboldt County Historical Society with a stack of 57 posters, mostly from WWII. I had been talking the Archivist Jim about doing some kind of joint online exhibit on the posters, including posters from WWI that the Historical Society has in its collections. The main barrier for the Museum was that we didn’t have a way to digitize the posters. I tried a tripod and a camera, but the quality was subpar at best. Thanks to a grant they received a few years ago, the Historical Society has a large format scanner that we could borrow to scan the posters. I had seem them at Humboldt State, but had never used one, so it was a good opportunity to learn something new. It was a good opportunity to test out the equipment, and understand how to work with large files.
Since we’re closed to the public and not running events, we have some breathing room to take on these long range, necessary projects that are all the more important now that people are staying home and looking for things to do, like maybe research for a historical article they’ve always wanted to write. It’s a way for us to continue engaging the public even though they can’t physically be here.