Bangor Public Library amassed its collection of war posters through the efforts of then-librarian L. Felix Ranlett, a World War I veteran who collected them as they were released, says Barbara McDade, the current library director. UMaine Dean of Libraries Joyce Rumery first saw a selection of the posters in fall 2010 when they were on display at the Bangor Public Library for a visit by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.
Soon after, Rumery mentioned the poster collection at a Fogler Library staff meeting. As a history buff and military veteran, Daigle knew of other war poster collections, most of which were much smaller than the one in Bangor.
“I was intrigued by the fact that there would be this large collection of them locally, but they were very hard for people to view because they were stacked up on shelves, and you have to handle them carefully,” he says. “I knew there were some online collections, but in many cases the images were just small thumbnails.”
Once Eugene and Barbara Daigle committed to the project — they estimate the digitization process ultimately will cost around $40 per poster — they didn’t have to go far to find a photographer to shoot the posters. Eugene Daigle’s brother James Daigle, a Bangor-based professional photographer, not only agreed to photograph the images — a time-consuming process — but also to build a special vacuum table that gently holds the more delicate posters in place without the use of tape.
Each poster image will be stored on the Fogler Library server in three sizes: thumbnails in a viewing directory; 8-by-10-inch images suitable for printing; and 5 megabyte files for full-size displays. Fogler Library will sell prints, with proceeds benefitting the Bangor Public Library’s plan to conserve the original war posters.
Although the Daigles are eager to share the posters with the public, their motivation is personal. Eugene Daigle served six years in the Air Force, including one year of active duty during the end of the Vietnam era, followed by 22 years in the Coast Guard Reserve. Barbara Daigle served eight years in the Coast Guard Reserve. Both attended college on the GI Bill and went on to earn advanced degrees at UMaine (business for Eugene, nursing for Barbara).
Their military connections also go back a generation. Barbara Daigle’s father served in the Navy during World War II, helping to prepare for the invasions of Sicily and Japan. Eugene Daigle’s father was in the Marines and then the Air Force during the Korean War, working in the mountains of Korea to set up airplane guidance systems. For the Daigles and many others who were without a parent during the wars, the posters are reminders of what life was like at home.
Image Description: War savings stamps
Image Description: Explosives Poster