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Digitizing 90,000+ Political Posters from Around the World—SCA Newsletter Feature

The following article was written by CSPG Archivists Lisa and Sam and was originally published in the Spring 2023 Society of California Archivists newsletter, pages 12-14. The entire newsletter can be found here.

Assistant Archivist, Samantha Ceja (left), and Project Archivist, Lisa Kahn (right), digitizing posters about racism at the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

How does a small, independent archive make its collections widely available? What does an archive do when they are forced to close their doors due to a pandemic? How can research requests be addressed without risking the health and safety of staff?

These questions plagued the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) in March 2020. Due to the pandemic, the offsite digitization vendor that supported CSPG for more than a decade permanently closed, in-person researchers were unable to visit, and exhibition programs were moved online.

Based in Culver City, CSPG houses over 90,000+ domestic and international human rights and protest posters, dating from the 19th century to the present. Since its founding in 1989, CSPG has been recording the history of activism, protest, and worldwide struggle for justice by collecting and exhibiting political posters.

The past few years of political and economic uncertainty reinforced CSPG’s need to digitally preserve the collection and make it accessible to virtual audiences. The Executive Director and Archives Director envisioned transforming the current website into a more enhanced, customized viewing platform that enables full access to our collection through digital "folders"—almost as if visiting in person. This update will also include the ability to magnify details on the items without compromising