Illustrations and The Women of The Associated

Posted on August 8, 2018 by

Blog post by JMM intern Ash Turner. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

While looking through material from the Associated Jewish Charities and Jewish Welfare Fund from the 1940s to the 1970s, I have found a treasure trove of fun illustrations. Everything from invitations, to informational booklets, to newsletters contain small drawings that are simple and expressive. My time researching the Associated was made even more fun with the addition of these little gems sprinkled throughout their fundraising material.

Promotional invitation for “Coke Tale” Hour, an event hosted by the Young People’s Division of the Associated Jewish Charities’ Women’s Division. Includes an illustration of a young man at a microphone and a bucket of cola bottles on ice. Via JMM 2017.068.014.008

What I really wanted to talk about were the artists who made these great illustrations. But as far as I can tell, there is no documentation on who drew them. What I do know is that many of these drawings are found mostly in the Women’s Division scrapbooks and within their campaign material (the Women’s Division was a formal organization of women within the Associated that volunteered and ran fundraising campaigns from 1957 to 1993). Since there is also no clear record of a position or job of “artist” or “illustrator” early on in the Women’s Division or the Associated, and since there is no clear record of someone being hired to create these illustrations, there is a possibility that these artists were simply volunteers, specifically women from the Women’s Division. The sketch below, most likely created by a volunteer, supports the feasibility that volunteers created their own illustrations and material for Women’s Division events. But, since this is just speculation, and I don’t have specific information about the artists who created these drawings, I will just focus on talking about the drawings themselves, and how they relate to the women of the Associated.

A sketch, hand drawn in pencil, that lays out an idea for an invitation for a Women’s Division event. From the 1949 Women’s Division Scrapbook, JMM 2017.068.011.031

Many of these Women’s Division illustrations from the late 1940s through the early 1960s are sketched, simple line drawings, usually added next to text on invitations and fundraising cards. Most look like quick sketches, as if they were hand-drawn and then reprinted, and they can be found in the Division’s newsletters and other advertising materials. A few of the drawings contain simple and clean lines with a single accent color, pulled together in a thoughtful layout. They mostly depict women at work—volunteering, fundraising, or deep in thought.

Three close-ups of illustrations from cards for the 1949 “G-Day,” a door-to-door campaign hosted by the Women’s Division of the Associated. From the 1949 Women’s Division Scrapbook, JMM 2017.068.011

Two close-ups of illustrations from the booklet “Why Women” from the Women’s Division, created for “G-Day” in 1951. From the 1951 Combined Campaign Scrapbook, JMM 2017.068.019

Two pages from 1955 “Keynoter” Newsletters, produced by the Women’s Division of the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund. Left image contains an illustration of a “G-Day” door-to-door solicitor, and right image describes the need to give during the Associated combined campaign. From the JMM’s 1955 Women’s Division Scrapbook

In the late 1960s and onwards, the illustrations start to become more fleshed out. These drawings have cleaner designs, and sometimes are either cartoonishly stylized or realistically rendered. This is the time period when the Associated’s illustrations become integrated into the overall graphic design of the campaign material as well, making the drawings feel more professional.

Cover of an invitation for the “Art of Living” luncheon and fashion show campaign event, hosted by the Women’s Division of the Associated. From the JMM’s 1969 Women’s Division Scrapbook

To me, these illustrations make the regular campaign material more inviting and approachable. They depict the role of women in the Associated, and how they viewed themselves at that point in time: heavily engaged and committed to social work, a part of the community, and lending a helping hand at every turn. The way the women are drawn in the illustrations—proud, emotive, active… It’s not a stretch to say that they are drawn more often than men in these illustrations, and it shows how big of a part they played in the Associated’s organization and their fundraising campaigns.

Women in the Associated were very engaged with both the arts and culture, especially during this time period from the 40s to the 70s. They were a part of the Baltimore art community, hosting art exhibits and teaching art at the Jewish Community Center. They held art and cultural festivals, such as the “Village Fair” hosted by the Ladies’ Auxiliary of Levindale. The Women’s Division wrote and performed their own plays for their campaigns and wrote original poems to include in their newsletters. Regardless of if they drew these illustrations for the Women’s Division, the women of the Associated took an artistic approach to connecting with their community, and I feel that their work in the arts is communicated through the illustrative touches added to their campaign material. They went above and beyond to engage and connect, combining art with fundraising to create these magical moments and drawings that livened up their campaigns.

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