To Space! Soviet Space Poster

Sandra Yates
Archivist & Special Collections Librarian

To Space! Soviet Poster by Nikolai Litvinov, 1960. 30in x 38in MS076 Philip S. Hench, MD papers, McGovern Historical Center.

To Space! Soviet Poster by Nikolai Litvinov, 1960. 30in x 38in MS076 Philip S. Hench, MD papers, McGovern Historical Center.

Keeping with the theme of the 1960s (see previous post), I made a very interesting find in the archive this week. It is a 1960 Soviet propaganda poster by the artist Nikolai Litvinov. It’s part of the Philip S. Hench, MD papers. This collection consists of Dr. Hench’s personal and professional documents from his childhood, 1896, to his death, 1965. These papers provide information about his family and life, including his service in World War II, and his contributions to medical research in rheumatic diseases. Dr. Hench was a co-developer of cortisone as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and a joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1950.

In the midst of all the materials that we have in the Hench collection, it is only somewhat surprising to find a Soviet propaganda poster. First, as an archivist, I’m never surprised to find seemingly incongruous items within collections. Second, Dr. Hench was an world-renowned physician as the Space Race was heating up between the Soviet Union and United States. He could have acquired it through his travels or through one of his international colleagues. A note accompanying the item reads that it was “found with May-July 1949 Arthritis-Cortisone News Clippings.” Granted, this creates more questions, but it does imply that the poster was collected through the course of Dr. Hench’s medical interests.

Detail showing information of Soviet poster titled To Space! MS076 Philip S. Hench, MD papers, McGovern Historical Center.

Detail showing information of Soviet poster titled To Space! MS076 Philip S. Hench, MD papers, McGovern Historical Center.

Using an online Cyrillic keyboard and Google Translate, below is a sketchy translation of the text at the bottom on the poster:
Publishing “Soviet Artist”
Artist: N. Litvinov, Editor: K. Nazarov
Sign print 18.VII–1960, A06703, Tyre. 36000, 1 b Inst.
Price 1 Ruble 10 Kopeks, Order 1042
Printed on “(undiscernable)”

According to a 2014 BBC.com article “Red alert: Collecting Soviet propaganda posters,” this item is likely an original since it includes “the print run, date and often the artist’s name.” We welcome any Russian scholars or poster collectors to contact us with more information.

You can review the finding aid on the McGovern Historical Center website for more information about Philip S. Hench, MD papers.

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Posted in Archives, Images, Manuscript Collection

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