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SOVIET WAR POSTERS c.1940-1945

The TASS Poster Series from the Hallward Library, University of Nottingham

Introduction by Dr Dorothy B. Johnston

The Soviet War Posters now held in the Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections in Nottingham University Library came to the University as a gift from a former member of staff, Professor Vivian de Sola Pinto.  Professor Pinto (1895-1969) was a distinguished scholar with far-ranging interests.  He read English at Oxford and then spent some time at the Sorbonne and in the Extra-Mural Department at Nottingham before moving to the English Department at Southampton in 1926.  He returned to Nottingham in 1938, to the Chair of English which he held until he retired in 1961.  His research and publications lay primarily within the field of 17th century English literature, but he also pursued an active interest in many other areas.  It was largely his enthusiasm which inspired the establishment of a D H Lawrence Collection in the University Library, which benefited enormously from his contacts, advice and generosity.  As with many other academics of his age who had served as younger men in the 1914-18 War, Pinto gave service, though less actively, in the Second World War.  He apparently acquired the Soviet War Posters at the end of the war.  They were subsequently included in the considerable collection of books which he donated to the University Library.

The Posters have not been widely used since their accession, for their size and fragility create significant problems in handling, and access must be carefully controlled.  The extent of these physical problems can be seen from the catalogue, which includes dimensions and a statement of physical condition.  The TASS Windows have suffered particularly badly from acid degradation of the paper.  The complex physical structure of the Windows, composed of separate sheets of paper glued together, has also encouraged tears and accelerated their deterioration.  The hand colouring which gives the posters their dramatic visual impact adds to the physical problem, and traditional methods of paper conservation have not therefore been attempted, as the operation would be a very difficult one and the result uncertain.  In the circumstances, it is obviously preferable that researchers use a photographic surrogate and the originals are not therefore normally produced.

The Department is grateful to a number of colleagues both within the Library and in other University Departments for assistance in creating the present catalogue.  Advisers on the development of the project to catalogue and publish the Collection included Professor Malcolm Jones, Department of Slavonic Studies, and Mr Gordon Johnston, of the University Library.  Descriptions of the TASS Windows were first compiled by Mr Garth Terry, and of the printed series by Miss Julia Dobson.  These finding aids have been expanded by staff in the Department, aided by Mr Peter Hoare, University Librarian, and Dr Derek Spring of the University’s History Department.  Finally, the practical assistance of Mr Henry Busby, who as a volunteer in the Department helped to check and prepare the fragile posters before photography, must be acknowledged.

Dr Spring’s research into the subject of Soviet posters had enabled the inclusion in this catalogue of details about the Nottingham holdings which are also found in the Lenin Library.  It has thus been possible to supply the date of each poster and the number of copies printed.  These details are not given for the sixteen posters in the Nottingham Collection which are apparently absent from the Lenin Library Collection.  (Our References: MS 281/1/3, 8, 11, 21, 22, 37, 38, 89, 100, 113, 116, 118, 120, 124, 127, 128.)  The following articles by Dr Spring give further background information about the artists and themes of the Nottingham posters, and, more broadly,  about Soviet posters as a genre.  We are pleased to include with the catalogue these very helpful aids to the interpretation of the posters.

Dorothy B. Johnston

Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections

 

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