When American Industry Was Great

In 1938, when General Motors was indeed a general among industries, their Department of Public Relations proudly issued booklets that celebrated while it informed the public. Using automotive progress as the lynch-pin – indeed cars were the hub of American industrial and economic dominance – the books focused on how design, invention, engineering and production were at its height.

Titles, including “Chemistry and Wheels,” “Diesel: The Modern Power,” “Putting Progress Through Its Paces” and “Modes and Motors,” among others were designed anonymously but with modern flair. “Paces” includes streamline photomontages that typify the image of 30s industrial might. “Modes” heralds the vernacular of design as art.  Here is a small sampling.

General Motors PR Booklet

General Motors PR Booklet

General Motors PR Booklet

General Motors PR Booklet

General Motors PR Booklet

General Motors PR Booklet

General Motors PR Booklet

 

6 thoughts on “When American Industry Was Great

  1. Christo Datini

    For anyone interested in viewing a larger sampling of the many pamphlets created by General Motors, visit the GM Heritage Center website. These pamphlets weren’t just written by the PR department, most of the photography, typography, art and printing was done in-house by GM Photographic whose headquarters in the New Center area of Detroit is now home to College for Creative Studies.

  2. Ron Rifkin

    Mr. Heller – You are forever blessing us with looks back into our graphic heritage. You are obviously a discerning collector of vast amounts of media and images. So that begs the question: What are you saving today that will match the interest and import of these gems?

  3. chaz desimone

    The layout and typography is superb, and even the copy was written well in those days. But what’s most impressive is the artwork, all those montages with lighting and fading effects, done in excrutiating step-by-step paces. Today it would take minutes in Photoshop, and probably wouldn’t look as striking as what you’ve shown here from decades ago.

  4. John Judy

    Wonderful brochure!! Yes, it does speak to design, invention, engineering and production. And, it speaks to design in both the design of the cars in addition to the art deco design of the brochure. What a wonderful time capsule!

  5. Caleb

    American Industry is still great!
    So great that the rest of the world still tries to imitate our industrial systems and innovative spirit.
    Unprecedented litteracy rates and middle class prosperity seem to me to be the driving factors behind the explosion of style and art for the masses in the 20th century. It was and still is a brave new modern age.
    What will be the signature style of our post-industrial times?
     

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