Archival Calendars

During the 1930s the U.S. Government commissioned a huge photography project to document the Great Depression and in doing so created some of the most iconic and enduring images of American life. I really fell in love with a set of photos of the White Motor Company from my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and I thought it would be cool to make my own personalized calendar from the images. Lucky for me the files are available in high enough resolution to print a normal size calendar through the Apple printing service. I selected about 14 of my favorite pictures (which seem to be copyright free, at least for this clearly non-commercial use) laid everything out in iPhoto and submitted the job straight through to Apple. About two weeks and $28 later I was in business.

More information about the photographs from the Library of Congress:

The black-and-white photographs of the Farm Security AdministrationOffice of War Information Collection are a landmark in the history of documentary photography. The images show Americans at home, at work, and at play, with an emphasis on rural and small-town life and the adverse effects of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and increasing farm mechanization. Some of the most famous images portray people who were displaced from farms and migrated West or to industrial cities in search of work. In its latter years, the project documented America’s mobilization for World War II. The collection includes about 164,000 black-and-white negatives; this release provides access to over 160,000 of these images. The FSA-OWI photographers also produced about 1600 color photographs.

The White Motor Company calendar was a nice way to celebrate some of these amazing and iconic images, not to mention my own hometown’s wartime industrial strength. I’m already thinking of a railroad worker themed 2011. [Additionally, do like me and be sure to thank the LOC for the personal pleasure (and totally non-commercial use) of their photos. Donate online here.]

Here’s a better look at the gent in the above image.

Comments on “Archival Calendars

    George on October 29, 2010 1:09 PM:

    Michael, really cool. Just really, really cool. Thanks for showing it off and helping everyone else find the links.

    Noble County Gold on October 29, 2010 2:34 PM:

    Great idea. Makes a great gift…since you cannot charge for the item, due to the copy laws.

    Scott G on October 29, 2010 6:12 PM:

    The hyperlink in your first paragraph (to the LOC) is not functioning. Just wanted to let you know – you can delete this post.

    This is a great idea. With the dizzying array of calendar subjects coming out this time of year it’s nice to be able to pay tribute to the “greatest generation” in this way.

    Larry on October 29, 2010 6:58 PM:

    Absolutely the best thing on the internet! Thanks for giving me something to do this weekend!

    TMH on October 29, 2010 8:55 PM:


    Michael Williams on October 29, 2010 8:57 PM:

    Sorry about the link. I didn’t realize it was broken. It should be working now.

    robbie on October 29, 2010 9:08 PM:

    Michael, are you familiar w/ the State Guide series books? They were published in the 30’s through the writers project, and feature TONS of WPA photographs. I definitely think the Ohio and New York editions would be excellent additions to your bookshelf. There might even be a NYC edition as well if I remember correctly.

    Berton718 on October 30, 2010 3:33 AM:

    Wonderful images!! Thanks for exposing them to us!!

    Jeff on October 30, 2010 10:37 AM:

    Great idea. For the record–all of the FSA photographs, as government records, are in the public domain; government works can’t be copyrighted. So you’re free to do with them what you will, which includes commercial use. You could certainly sell this calendar if you wanted…

    Michael Williams on October 30, 2010 11:07 AM:

    Thank’s Jeff for the info. I read that somewhere, but wasn’t totally sure. Happy calendar making everybody.

    Roy on November 1, 2010 6:53 AM:

    The LOC is one of the greatest image repositories of American history. Photographers such as Walker Evans, Dorthea Lange, Gordon Parks, and Jack Delano have all left us with great work in the public collection. You can also visit them in person to look through their files. The website is a small selection of what is available in person.

    Also agree w/Jeff. They are public domain images and you can do with them as you please.
    Great calender.

    bmackintosh on November 8, 2010 3:02 PM:

    My father worked for White Sundstrandt back in the day. One of the companies that came from White Motor Co.

    swaynorth on November 22, 2010 7:03 PM:

    One helluva model american! Such a cool idea and gift

Comments are closed.