German stickers and “Street Art Graphics” digital archive update

I spent a few months last winter and spring organizing hundreds (thousands?) of original, unused German political stickers that I’ve gathered since 2013, though some date back 10 or 20 years. Oliver Baudach at Hatch Kingdom, Berlin, who has been my most generous supporter, has given me well over 1,000 German stickers, and seeing his sticker museum convinced me to focus on collecting original, unused stickers whenever possible. I’ve also picked up stickers in Berlin at alternative bookstores, political rallies, May Day gatherings, infoshops, zine fests, and occasionally

Several hundred German stickers also came in recently as gifts, with one donation from an anonymous street artist who visited the Paper Bullets exhibition at Hatch in 2014, and another from a contact at a Berlin squat/infoshop in 2015. One day last April, I laid everything out on one of the gallery floors where I work (1,000 square feet) to check for dupes. The German stickers are now almost fully sorted and archived in notebooks; I plan to scan as many of them as possible in the weeks and months ahead.

I also made a concerted effort this past summer to catalogue German stickers that Oli has given me for the Street Art Graphics digital archive in Shared Shelf Commons. Oli and his frau, Nada Carls, came to St. Lawrence University in June, and in one week we catalogued over 400 stickers. Oli and Nada created metadata for Title, Title-Translation, and Description fields, and I focused on the more straightforward Date, Geographic Location, Source, Language, Filename, and Credit Line fields. In some cases, Oli knew the artists who made the stickers, and Oli and Nada both brought a wealth of expertise to contextualizing the stickers. Their native understanding of German language, artists, culture, and socio-political events and activities added a rich dimension to the cataloguing I am able to do with staff and students at St. Lawrence. Perhaps everyone’s favorite stickers were from Hamburg’s Football Club St. Pauli (FCSP), a very creative, outspoken team. Oli, Nada, and I catalogued 137 FCSP stickers from 2013 that promoted the team and its players, made fun of rival teams, and also commented upon sociopolitical issues, such as racism, sexism, fascism, immigration, German nationalism, and police brutality.

After hearing about Oli and Nada’s visit, Nadine Emmerich, an independent German journalist, wrote a story about the cataloguing project for the second largest German news website called ZDF Heute in an article called Stickers als “demokratischste Kunstform.”


Before Oli and Nada visited, I had started a “metadata cheat sheet” in Word with text that could be cut and pasted into Description fields and Curator’s Notes that share similar information (subjects, political parties, concepts, etc.). Nada suggested we use Google Docs and store it in Drive, and it’s turned out to be quite useful in collaborative projects like this. Here is what we came up with for “Antifaschistische Aktion.” We kept the description relatively short but then elaborated in Curator’s Notes.

Antifaschistische Aktion (Description)

Antifascist message from Antifaschistische Aktion (antifa in Germany), a non-hierarchical, autonomous network of political groups whose goal is to “smash fascism” and other forms of oppression. Image of [fill in blank].

Antifaschistische Aktion (Curator’s Notes)

Antifa members create propaganda (fliers, brochures, stickers) and organize rallies and demonstrations against far right, nationalist, and anti-Semitic activities and events. The original antifa logo of two waving red flags surrounded by a red circle was designed in 1932 by two German graphic artists, Max Kelison and Max Gebhart. At the time, the red flags represented the unity of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). Since the 1980s, the antifa logo depicts two waving red and black flags surrounded by a red or black circle. The red flag represents socialism and communism, while the black flag represents anarchy, groups joined together against fascism. The flag logo has been modified by various groups to comment upon such issues as sexism, homophobia, racism, environmental degradation, capitalism, etc.

And here is what we came up with for “Heimat.”

Heimat (Description)

Heimat is a specific German term and concept that does not have an English equivalent, but it refers to “home,” “homeland,” and love and affinity toward one’s birthplace and traditions. The concept has varied over time. For some Germans, it connotes childhood, family, landscape, and friends. Others who fear extreme German nationalism and allegiance to a fatherland tend to view Heimat more negatively. For more information, see “Home Meets Heimat” by Alexandra Ludewig at


And this for “Mediaspree.”

Mediaspree (Curator’s Notes)

Mediaspree is a property investment project in Berlin, Germany, that aims to establish telecommunication and media companies along parts of the Spree River and to implement urban renewal projects in largely under- or unused spaces, transforming them to office buildings, lofts, bars, clubs, and hotels. Critics have voiced concern over issues of rapid gentrification and the privatization of public space. In 2013, a 45-meter (148-foot) section of the East Side Gallery was removed for the then-O2 World’s pier for pleasure boats and water-taxis, despite the former Berlin Wall’s protection as a historical monument. Two groups, among others, have formed in opposition. The first, Mediaspree Versenken!, is an initiative that challenges Mediaspree, in particular, and neoliberal urban development policy, in general. The second, Megaspree, whose motto is “Save Your City,” is an open, non-partisan alliance of art and cultural workers, club operators, political groups, open-space citizens, and open-space users that formed in 2009 to protest against the loss of alternative and subcultural spaces in Berlin and the destruction of such spaces by unilateral urban development policies.




A sticker about Emma Goldman from my Street Art Graphics digital archive is featured today on the DPLA Twitter feed!

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 12.06.07 PM



Ten new “stickerettes”!

I have acquired ten new I.W.W. stickerettes! They came from a packet with text on the cover that reads “Stickerettes – Silent Agitators – Fifteen Different Designs – Black And Red – Stick ’Um Up!” There is also an image of a black sab cat in a wooden shoe that was likely designed by or borrowed from Ralph Chaplin, whom I’ve written about before. Sorry for the poor screen shot of the envelope; it’s the best I could get.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 6.40.55 PM

I can confirm the dates of these stickerettes, too. The I.W.W. headquarters were located at 1001 West Madison Street in Chicago, the address listed on the envelope, from July 1917 to March 1925.


You can see the new stickerettes on my Flickr site here (scroll down to the bottom). I now have 41 stickerettes in my collection; a few of them are duplicate designs with one printed in black or red and the other printed in both black and red.



The stickerette “Why Be A Soldier? Be A Man, Join The I.W.W. And Fight On The Job For Yourself And Your Class.” is one that undoubtedly got the I.W.W. and union members in trouble with the U.S. government. On September 5, 1917, federal agents raided I.W.W. offices across the country, and 100 union leaders and members were later arrested and charged with sedition under the newly created Espionage Act of 1917 that was enacted a few months beforehand (along with another charge of violating postal laws by mailing out stickerettes and other printed matter).



Dates Confirmed for Early I.W.W. Stickerettes

I can finally confirm dates of some of the earliest I.W.W. stickers in my collection. The August 31, 1918, edition of The Literary Digest ran an article called “Branding the I.W.W.” that features three stickers with the caption, “Typical I.W.W. Propaganda—Stickers Circulated in the Northwest.”


Unfortunately, the article doesn’t say anything about the stickers themselves, but it describes the conviction of 100 I.W.W. members for treason soon after the beginning of World War I and the subsequent passage of the U.S. Espionage Act. The artist and poet Ralph Chaplin, whom I’ve written about in previous posts and for the People’s History Archive, was one of those union members arrested and convicted, and I imagine he created these early stickers, known at the time as “stickerettes” or “silent agitators.”



Other articles in this edition include “Grenades to Suit Everybody,” Germany’s Gigantic War Profits,” and “Why Germany Destroys Art.”


Vote Yes For Woman Suffrage sticker (1915)

In my search for the earliest U.S. political stickers, I’ve come across overty thirty different “stickerettes” or “silent agitators” produced by the Industrial Workers of the World dating from the mid-1910s to present day. Stickerettes were advertised in I.W.W. pamphlets and newspapers as early as 1917, based on microfilm reels I’ve viewed of the group’s Solidarity newspaper. I don’t have anything else that dates the earliest stickerettes, however. (Search “stickerette” on Stickerkitty to see previous posts on these items.)

However, recently I found this women’s suffrage sticker from 1915 that is dated and affixed to an envelope also dated 1915! (New Jersey voted no in the October 19th referendum, as did New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. New York passed the vote in 1917; Massachusetts in 1920; and Pennsylvania also in 1920. The latter two states passed only after Congress ratified the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote on August 19, 1920.)

US_misc_historical_351 with envelope

The envelope was sent from the “Penna. Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.” Here is a map published by the league of how the vote was split across the state for and against.



New “People’s History Archive” Website!

Project History

Initiated in 2015 by the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery and the Libraries and Instructional Technology (LIT) division at St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY), the People’s History Archive features selected street art stickers, posters, and ephemera from around the world dating from the 1910s to present day. Contributors include undergraduate students, young alumni, and faculty who create mini-online interpretive exhibits using items from a Street Art Graphics digital archive and/or from items contributors have selected themselves through off-campus research projects. Items can also be viewed on an interactive timeline and map.



The original Street Art Graphics digital archive was created in 2004 in a platform called ContentDM, and it now features over 2,600 stickers with another hundred posters, fliers, city cards, one-of-a-kind drawings by street artists, and other street-based ephemera. In 2015, the U.S. Council of Independent Colleges selected the Street Art Graphics collection as one of 42 projects across the country to be included in Artstor’s Shared Shelf Commons, an international digital library of arts and sciences. St. Lawrence received a four-year grant to migrate and build the collection and to enhance its use in teaching and scholarship.

The People’s History Archive also represents a collaboration between the Street Art Graphics digital archive and the Weave, an independent news media project created in 2006 and headquartered in the Global Studies department. Catherine Tedford, gallery director, and John Collins, professor of Global Studies, received a four-year mini-grant from an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities grant to St. Lawrence University entitled “Crossing Boundaries: Re-envisioning the Humanities in the 21st Century.” One component of the project, Weaving the Streets, offers contributors the opportunity to write investigative blog posts about topics of interest that are under-reported in mainstream news media.

The People’s History Archive was built in Drupal by Eric Williams-Bergen, Director of Digital Initiatives at St. Lawrence University.

For more information, see my previous post Weaving the Streets & People’s History Archive (WSPHA) from last year. It’s been fascinating to see the project unfold and to see how websites are conceptualized and designed. There are still a few tweaks to work through, but with this post I’m now ready to go public with it. A dream come true! The subtitle for the site is “street art stickers, posters, ephemera – documenting the creative and complex ways people make use of public space.” The site will feature scans of physical items (i.e., not born-digital photographs, which are featured on the Weaving the Streets blog).

At this point, the plan is to have four umbrella projects and multiple exhibits within each.

Paper Bullets: My work on political stickers from around the world – under construction. I created one exhibit on U.S. Industrial Workers of the World I.W.W. “Stickerettes” or “Silent Agitators” as a model to show students; additional exhibits will follow.

Pegatinas Políticas: In the summer of 2015, Laurel Hurd ’16 expanded her Weaving the Streets experience with an SLU Student Research Fellowship, in which she added approximately 75 Spanish street art stickers to the People’s History Archive and wrote four exhibits:


Street Art @ SLU: Work from students in my street art course – under construction. To date, one exhibit by Rebecca Clayman ’17 has been published on the German Feminist Movement (1970s to present day). Another two exhibits will be published soon on indigenous/Native American stickers and on culture jamming.


Weaving the Streets: Work by students and young alumni in the Mellon Humanities grant-funded project – under construction. Sean Morrissey ’16 is working on an exhibit on tourism in Thailand. Carolyn Dellinger ’16, the student who catalogued a group of German spuckies in 2014, is also working on an exhibit on environmental issues and animal rights in the UK.




2016 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at SLU

Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon

Friday, March 4, 2016, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Newell Center for Arts Technology

Noble Center Room 108

St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY)

we can edit

In conjunction with International Women’s Day, St. Lawrence University will be one of 125 locations around the globe to host a 2016 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. Last year, over 1,500 participants at more than 75 events created nearly 400 new pages and made significant improvements to 500 articles on Wikipedia. Since the group’s founding in 2014, edit-a-thon focus areas include female artists, works of art by women, social reformers, activists, and feminists.  The SLU edit-a-thon also encourages contributions about women across the arts in music, theater performance, and elsewhere.

According to the organizers, “Art+Feminism is a rhizomatic campaign to improve coverage of women and the arts on Wikipedia, and to encourage female editorship. Wikimedia Foundation found that less than 10% of its contributors identify as female. While the reasons for the gender gap are up for debate, the practical effect of this disparity is not. Content is skewed by the lack of female participation. This represents an alarming absence in an increasingly important repository of shared knowledge. We invite people of all gender identities and expressions, particularly transgender, cisgender, and gender nonconforming women, to address this absence by organizing in-person, communal updating of Wikipedia’s entries on art and feminism.”

Participants in the Wikipedia edit-a-thon will learn how to edit existing articles and/or create new pages, as well as gain an understanding of core Wikipedia fundamentals, including “neutrality, notability, and citation.” All members of the North Country community are welcome, and previous experience is not required.  Knowledgeable editors will be on hand to provide support.

Co-organized by Catherine Tedford, Director of the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, and Leila Walker, Assistant Director of the “Crossing Boundaries” Mellon Humanities Grant, with assistance from Renee McGarry, senior instructional designer for Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Co-sponsored by St. Lawrence University’s Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, “Crossing Boundaries” Mellon Humanities Grant, Newell Center for Arts Technology, and Libraries and Information Technology. Light refreshments will be provided. Seating is limited; to register please contact Catherine at (315 229-5174) or Leila at (315 229-5486).

Additional resources:

Evans, Siân. ACRLog. Why GLAM Wiki: Wikipedia and Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums. December 15, 2015; accessed February 4, 2016.

Hamlin, Amy K. Art History Teaching Resources. Art History, Feminism, and Wikipedia. December 11, 2015; accessed February 4, 2016.

Thom, Alexandra and Saisha Grayson-Knoth. Art History Teaching Resources. Making History: Wikipedia Editing as Pedagogical and Public Intervention. March 7, 2014; accessed February 4, 2016.



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