La Victory Book Campaign

Campaign Victory Book Campaign was one of the many measures taken in the United States to try to maintain the morale of the troops fighting away from home.

In November 1941, the American Library Association, the American Red Cross and the United Service Organizations, joined forces to create the Victory Book Campaign, a campaign to collect books to supplement, or rather increase, the funds available in the libraries of the Army and Navy. The idea was to ask for the donation of books to get them, for free, the soldiers and sailors who served in the armed forces. This initiative was not new, since he had already worked during World War. By then, an illustrator named Charles Buckles Falls, He drew a poster for the American Library Association. In the same, I could be a soldier holding a stack of books. This design became a great success and, years later, this same association again contacted with CB Falls to Do a new assignment. The official campaign headquarters stood at the Empire State Building, while its release was held 12 of January of 1942 on the steps of the New York Public Library.

Actress Benay Benuta inaugurates the campaign on the steps of the Public Library of NewYork


An effort in which the entire nation takes part

The appeal was successful. People began bringing their books to local libraries. Many stores also helped solicit donations in their windows. Companies set up boxes to collect donations from their employees. Organizations like the Red Cross or the Boy Scouts were responsible for collecting specimens. The whole country collaborated with this initiative, giving some as curious as the one starring the guild dairy. He 18 of January of 1943, the newspaper The New York Times He published the following:

“The Campaign for the Book of Victory 1943 for the collection and distribution of books for men in the armed forces will receive practical support of dairy farmers in this area in the coming days. Homemakers who have had the habit of writing notes for dairy, telling how much milk and cream should stop, now receive notes of dairy, urging them to wrap and leave some books along with their empty milk bottles. Dairymen take the books and bring them to the distribution of milk, some centers from which will be delivered to the nearest library for final distribution to the armed forces in this plan, dairy companies such as Borden *, Sheffield's and Dairymen's League have received support from milk drivers' union.”

Boy Scouts collecting books in Detroit. 1943

Classification of donations

Not all copies were sent to the front. Among the thousands of books that arrived, some were very valuable, so it was decided to sell them and buy more books with the money earned. To this was formed a Committee rare books responsible for carrying out their pricing. It was also necessary to classify specimens to discard duplicate titles, broken or poor quality (He requested the public not to donate copies to clean up thinking their shelves). The state director of the campaign in the state of Oregon, Eleanor Stephens, It asked its neighbors to hand over at least a good book, but he warned the reader not to be “the attic for this type of book. Our boys do not want copies discarded. Donate books that you would like, worthwhile, books that are desirable.” With everything, Ruth Stratton, her successor in office, he complained bitterly of having received such titles as “old college catalogs, books on midwifery, or many titles in poor physical condition.”

Sorting donations for the Victory Book Campaign in Oregon

To know the tastes of soldiers, Campaign managers conducted surveys which later spread among the public to direct their donations. Adventure books, western, or mystery detective stood out above other literary genres. Those who collected comic stories, anecdotes or cartoons were among the most preferred. There was also a high demand for technical books among men studying a career or waiting to ascend. In this case, books should have less seniority 7 years from the date of its publication. This category could find books on architecture, Mechanical drawing, maths, navigation, chemistry…etc

Mobile library of the 31st Division in the maneuvering area at Camp Polk, Louisiana en 1943

The biggest stars lend their image

Hollywood stars, Of the radio, singers, actors and actresses, also they contributed their image to help fund library collections. Katharine Hepburn, Chico Marx, Dick Powell, Merle Oberon, Gypsy Rose Lee, Mady Christians or the leader of the Big Band Benny Goodman had no qualms about appearing with members of the organization, present acts or photographed with mountains of books.

Katharine Hepburn and Chico Marx with a voluntary

A more positive final balance

He 31 from December to 1943, campaign ended. It was two years during which they were collected between 17.000.000 Y 18.500.000 units (according to different sources consulted). Undoubtedly, a success, both organizational and results. The reason given by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Campaign, William S. Hepner, to leave was that both the Army and the Navy prepared to buy 35.000.000 title to send all fronts. Under these circumstances, the effort of the Victory Book Campaign no sense.

Copies of all donated, near 10.000.000 They were considered “suitable context and distribution condition”. The army was the largest recipient with 60% of total transfers, Navy got near a 20%. Of the remaining, a 6% the merchant navy surrendered, while 45.000 books were reserved for prisoners of war. The American Red Cross, the United Service Organizations and some libraries, over the remaining titles they were made.

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