The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
The Life Behind the Smile
Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of hosting Elizabeth Sabin Goodwin's granddaughter, Linda Goodwin Eisenstadt, at the Smithsonian Archives. Linda came to see the original artwork for the cartoonographs her grandmother designed which illustrated political and social trends of the 1920s, like the rise in the quantity of meat the average American consumes, the rising dependency on foreign oil, and the cost of presidential elections. Aside from being taken by the beauty and humor in these illustrations (and their contemporary topics! Learn more about the cartoonographs in Historian Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette's recent post), the real source of inspiration came from hearing about Elizabeth's life.
First off, her talent was recognized beyond her family and new-found fans. She won a $50 first prize for a poster she designed for the Instructive Visiting Nurses Society in 1923, and a $125 first prize for a life drawing portrait in 1924. I'm sure that money came in handy as Linda informed us she came from a family of modest means. Her resourcefulness continued as a post-graduate at the nonprofit news organization, Science Service, where she marketed her skills as an illustrator. She often partnered with another intriguing figure, Emma Reh, who crafted the copy for the cartoonographs from the U.S. Census Bureau's statistics. She continued her work at Science Service into the early years of her marriage and birth of her son, from 1924-1926, and then worked on a freelance basis at least into the early 30's. In addition to her professional work, Sabin Goodwin was a prolific artist who experimented in different media and art genres which we were able to catch a glimpse of from the examples Linda brought to share with us. It was a treat to hear more about the personal life of a remarkable woman.