This resource guide was originally prepared for students in HA200, a course on the history of graphic design.
We brainstormed on genres and collections that might provide interesting subjects for the students' assignment to do an in-depth graphic design analysis.
The list turned out to be a wild assortment of genres and time periods, so it may serve as an eclectic introduction to MSU Special Collections. Enjoy!
We have 550+ posters from Africa (mostly southern Africa) and 1980s anti-apartheid campaigns around the world.
Significant categories in the collection:
World War I (1914-1918)
World War II (1939-1945)
The Penrose annuals (which changed their exact title over time) evolved from a review of printing processes to an international review of graphic design.
These are a great resource for finding examples of excellent design from a specific year or decade.
Historically, "broadsides" were announcements printed on single sheets so they could be posted, typically on the outside walls of shops for passers-by to see.
In contemporary usage, a broadside is usually a poem or a quote from literature printed as a poster. They're often done as souvenirs of book festivals.
Modern broadside collections:
Reproductions of historic broadsides:
Dictionary Story is an incredible artists' book by Sam Winston, in which letterforms themselves are used to represent elements of the narrative. This is a fascinating piece, worth seeing even if you don't write a paper about it!
Find books by important presses of the Fine Press movement:
Our catalog doesn't let you search by publisher. These are keyword searches and will retrieve books from each press plus books about each press. Sort your results by date and look at the oldest pub dates for the books actually produced by these presses.
This is an incredible collection of food and cooking-equipment advertising, with material dating back to the 1860s.
Under Advanced Search, you can limit your results by decade and limit to items with pictures. ("With pictures" means the item has been scanned, not that it has images, although most do have colorful images. Eventually the whole collection will be scanned.)
Some cookbooks are so popular they've gone through five or ten editions. One possible project could be to see how a cookbook's graphic design evolved over time.
The Boston Cooking School Cook Book. First edition 1896, 9th edition 1951. From that point forward, called the Fannie Farmer Cookbook after its famous author.
The Joy of Cooking. First edition 1931, revised editions in 1936, 1943, 1946, 1953, 1963, 1975, 1980, 1997.
Betty Crocker's Cookbook. Five editions from 1969 to 1991.
We have five books from a larger series of bilingual readers that were prepared in the 1940s for Native American children. The artists featured are all Native American.
These are favorites of mine, but since they are bilingual I thought they might also make an interesting study.
Along with our cookbooks, we have a modest collection of restaurant menus:
In the early days of film, going to the "moving picture" was such an event that audience members could buy a printed program about the feature, with photos and interviews with the stars and director. We have 300+ examples, going back to 1916.
Film programs are still produced today for premieres and press viewings.
Richard Ford is an MSU alum and a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, so we have collected a number of broadsides commemorating his work.
English is written from left to right, while Hebrew is written from right to left. Here are 11 books with text in both languages: