Read from left to right,
Skim text vertically for
Things hidden in plain sight.
Initial caps, in downward stream,
Can form a title, lend a theme.
Did you ever compose an acrostic poem as an exercise in creative writing? This long-forgotten art recently came into play when a propaganda poster entered my cataloging workflow. An acrostic text places one letter strategically at the end of each line in order to construct a message vertically. Some of the earliest examples of acrostics are based on letters of the ancient Hebrew alphabet. Since medieval times, acrostic verse has sung the praise of one’s patron or beloved. In the 21st century, acrostics may transmit caustic electronic remarks. (Acrostic, 2022) But most often, an acrostic phrase constitutes a title and introduces a topic.
Normally as a broadside presents itself to a cataloger, the first line of text on the page serves as the publication’s caption title as in “America for Americans!” above. The typography of this piece, however, calls for a different treatment. Bold, red letters running down the left side of the sheet assert the title and theme, “American Industry.” Our online catalog lists this work by both the atypical title proper as well as the caption variant.
This unique item came to Hagley in a multi-sourced collection of 43 broadsides that once hung in DuPont Company factories during World War I. Handwritten notes on the back suggest a patriotic practice of circulating the latest serial release on a weekly basis. American Industry is one of fourteen in our holdings that were issued through the National Industrial Conservation Movement, a campaign of the National Association of Manufacturers to cut back government regulation and boost labor productivity. We invite you to view these along with World War I motivational broadsides from other agencies in the Hagley Digital Archives.
Acrostic. (2022, June 6). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrostic
Alice Hanes is the Technical Services Librarian at Hagley Museum and Library.