For Immediate Release:
Media Contact: Katherine Jardine
(415) 557-4295; Katherine.Jardine@sfpl.org
Annual Wit & Humor Exhibit: Bombs Away: Humor Goes to War
Bombs Away: Humor Goes to War, an exhibition that draws from materials in the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor, is a selection of the spirit, wit and humor of those at war, and the people they left behind on the home front. The exhibit opened April 1 in the Skylight Gallery, Sixth Floor, Main Library and closes next Wednesday, May 31.
How did average readers and soldiers in the trenches deal with the stress of war in the 20th century? One way to preserve one’s sanity was keeping a sense of humor. From every imaginable corner of a war-torn world, humor was used to oppose tyranny and satirize the enemy. War is hell, but troops found that humor stayed the beast, at least temporarily; they laughed while belly-aching daily about the latest SNAFU, they laughed about jawbreakers in the mess and ribbon-happy officers. Folks at home rationed fuel and stockings, collected pots and pans for the war effort and listened to the radio for the latest news from the front. The world was full of newspaper cartoons and strips, editorial cartoons, propaganda art, Armed Services Editions sent to the troops, and humor created by the troops themselves in such newspapers as Stars and Stripes and Wipers Times.
“Without humor we are doomed,” noted Nat Schmulowitz, local attorney and former library trustee, who donated his collection of 93 jest books to the San Francisco Public Library on April 1, 1947. The collection has grown to more than 22,000 volumes and includes periodicals and audio-visual materials; it is considered the most significant collection of its kind in a public library. Every year, the Book Arts & Special Collections Center presents an exhibition based on materials in the Schmulowitz Collection, in tribute to Mr. Nat Schmulowitz’s generosity and lifelong interest in the Library.
Bombs Away: Humor Goes to War – April 1– May 31, Main Library, Skylight Gallery, 6th Floor