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The Power of Persuasion: Jewish Posters from Prewar Poland


About the Exhibition


An exhibition of posters from the YIVO Archives premiered at the Jewish-Historical Institute (ZIH) in Warsaw, Poland in January 1999 and is now traveling in Europe and the United States.

The posters in the exhibition document a time when posters were a very important means of communication. They disseminated information when other forms of mass media had not yet developed or were in their formative stages.

During the interwar period, posters became a ubiquitous presence on Jewish streets. Advertisements, announcements, and calls for action, they were pasted onto walls, wooden fences, or onto the round "public announcement" kiosks which could be found on many street corners.

Some posters announce theater performances, sports events, and literary readings. Others urge Jews to improve their lives through financial independence, awareness of health and hygiene issues, and political change through collective action. Campaign posters urge Jews to vote for candidates running for seats in the Polish Parliament or local city councils.

Most of the posters in the YIVO Archives were collected by YIVO when it was still headquartered in Vilna. Printed on poor-quality paper, plastered to the walls, reflecting fleeting moments of history, they were not meant to survive into the future. They open a window onto a period of unprecedented flourishing of Eastern European Jewish political and cultural life.

Funding for the exhibition was provided by the A. Jurzykowski Foundation and the Trust for Mutual Understanding in New York, Dr. George Szabad, the Batory Foundation, and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.

For more information about the posters, contact the exhibition curator, Krysia Fisher at kfisher@yivo.cjh.org or (917) 606-8292.