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Latvian Publishing between the Wars – New Exhibit in SML

The establishment of the Republic of Latvia (1918-1940) sparked an expansion in the Latvian publishing industry. Multi-lingual publications that flourished in the newly independent nation reflect Latvia’s history and include works printed in German, Russian, and Yiddish as well as Latvian. Aspiring publishers, here as everywhere in post-World War I Europe, operated within fiscal constraints while attempting to improve the literary environment.

This exhibition presents a sampling of works from this important period. The cover designs reflect a developing aesthetic distinctiveness among this country’s 2.5 million people at a cultural crossroads. The forms of print were as diverse as those competing for the public’s attention in any European center. Newspapers, periodicals, posters and broadsides, books and pamphlets suggest diversity while showing this new nation’s effort to establish its identity.

Exhibition materials are drawn from the Yale University Library and the Baltica collection formed by James Howard Fraser, an independent scholar whose work on Latvian book design of the Interwar era is currently in production. Fraser has worked with research and national libraries for forty years locating fugitive and political materials.

The exhibition was developed by James Howard Fraser in collaboration with Jae Jennifer Rossman, Assistant Director for Special Collections, Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library. It features items from Fraser’s collection that enable the curators to tell a specific story. It also draws on five different collections in the Yale University Library, showing that collecting the cultural artifacts of Latvia is important across the disciplines. The collections included are: Baltic Collection and Judaica Collection of Sterling Memorial Library, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, and Manuscripts and Archives. The exhibit will be on view until January 24 in the Memorabilia Room in SML.