Off to War



World War II, although tragic in many ways, pulled the United States out of the doldrums of the Great Depression by ramping up industrial production and alleviating unemployment. For California the war was a particular boom, and this section talks about soldiers abroad on both fronts, wartime aircraft production and shipbuilding, and the lives of women on the home front.


The titling for this section recalls the headline styles of the time, and is set in a digitized lead sample from the 1923 American Type Founders specimen book. Spanish is set in a distressed adaptation of Linotype's Erbar, as used in newspapers of the 1930s. 

In COMING FOR WORK, environmental design cues include overlapping panels with lines of rivets to connote WW II aircraft and shipbuilding industries.

The OFF TO WAR section title is one of the few in the gallery displayed on a gobo projection. This area also features a custom map of California wartime military installations. Stenciled typography completes the appropriate look. Final design adjustments to this map were made by Auburn Leigh.

I AM AN AMERICAN tells the story of four dissident personalities and were called "Un-American" for their views. The background is a seamless wallpaper tile of U.S. propaganda posters, designed with assistance from Amanda Boesen.

SENT AWAY presents the Japanese Internment as an immersive experience. Visitors can see and feel the horrible conditions under which the Japanese Americans were held prisoner during the war years; the lack of privacy, close quarters, and desolation. This section includes custom maps and period props. 

The front page of the San Francisco Examiner, February 27, 1942, reconstructed from a photograph by Dorothea Lange. Once again, authentic typeface samples from the Walden Font Company proved to be perfect for the task. The replica newspapers were reproduced on a rigid substrate and presented in faux-period racks.

This mini-exhibit experience consists of three area; BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER. Visitors enter by walking into a dark hallway with floor-to-ceiling photographic murals.

Two gaps in the plank wall provide views out to the camp grounds, and of people lined up outside. A pair of bunkbeds and a curtain reveal your 'neighbors' in the next room, and highlight the lack of privacy in these camps.

Two custom maps; the first shows how many Japanese businesses existed before the evacuation order. All were seized and sold. The second map shows the number and diverse types of camps that were part of the internment system during the war.

At the exit of the experience, visitors are confronted with a massive evacuation order; the description and date are left blank. The message is clear—you and your family could be next.

The typography in WELCOME HOME reflects the optimism of the early post-war period. House Industries' Las Vegas Fabulous is a script based on the original signage of The Flamingo Hotel, which opened in 1946. This area also features embedded exhibit text, screen printed onto a period army duffel bag prop.

In the JUKEBOX LOUNGE, the typographic exuberance continues in the form of a "Diner Menu" of song selections, completed with assistance from Amanda Boesen.

Four sections of the history gallery contain large format scrapbooks which are similar to my Gold Rush Miner Journals. Although this World War II book was designed by Auburn Leigh, I contributed the title lockup based on my typographic treatment for the section. Binding and finishing by The Key.