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[Detail] Lincoln Centennial Association

Graphic Design

In the middle of the nineteenth century, graphic design, using images, words, and ideas to communicate visually, was very different than it is today. Design was used in many of the same ways then as it is now, such as to sell products and to promote political causes.

The digitized material includes a collection of more than 20 envelopes with political illustrations. Look carefully at five or six of the envelopes.

  • How are illustrations, type, shapes, and color used on the envelopes?
  • What similarities do you see between these designs and contemporary graphic design? What differences do you see? How do you account for the differences?
  • In your opinion, which design is most eye-catching? Most appealing over all? Most persuasive?

Design two envelopes for a current political leader whom you respect. Design one to appeal to what you believe nineteenth-century voters would have enjoyed and one to appeal to current voters.