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Lilly Library

IMU exhibition showcases Slocum puzzles

Propaganda and Politics is an exhibition of puzzles from the Jerry Slocum Puzzle Collection that is currently located in the Indiana Memorial Union (IMU) across from Starbucks. The puzzles in the exhibition support a cause or portray a certain ideology, thus making them more than just a neutral pastime. It is interesting to see how puzzles could be used to support candidates and causes, and puzzles from several different eras are featured in the exhibition.

The exhibition is divided into four sections: politics, propaganda, war, and wartime. The political puzzles feature different candidates running for office, as well as governmental programs and issues. The propaganda puzzles are puzzles that have an overtly biased message that they want to get across. These puzzles are usually very patriotic or nationalistic and are meant to encourage people to support a cause or mindset. Puzzles of this type have messages like “Katch the Kaiser” or “Good Luck,” but there are also puzzles that supported the German cause as well. The puzzles in the war category feature different wars and battles and are more educational in that they portray specific battles or generals in the war. For instance, people playing with the puzzles can attempt to get the allies in Berlin or help Dewey maneuver his way into Manila Bay. Lastly, the wartime puzzles are very similar to the puzzles in the war category, but these puzzles are less informative and were more useful in helping people feel like they were a part of the war effort. Included in this section are puzzles that were sent to the soldiers fighting in the trenches in World War I, as well as a “blackout” puzzle, in which the lights must be blacked out before the air raid.

This exhibition features a variety of puzzles, and it is interesting to see how puzzles could be used to support different causes and candidates. The exhibition will be on display in the IMU until March 6, 2011.

—Brenna Henry, Exhibition curator