Children's Drawings of the Spanish Civil War

Children's Drawings of the Spanish Civil War

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) children were evacuated from the war zones to "colonies" in the war-free areas of Spain and in the south of France. Drawings by these children – most between the ages of seven and fourteen – were collected from throughout Spain in a concerted effort by the Spanish Board of Education and the Carnegie Institute of Spain. A large group was assembled by Joseph A. Weissberger in early 1938 and brought to the United States on behalf of the Spanish Child Welfare Association for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC – "Quakers"). They were used by the AFSC as a means to publicize the plight of the children and collect funds for more evacuations and other assistance. Over 850 of these drawings have been identified in a variety of locations. Columbia received the 153 images presented here in 1938 through a bequest and they became part of the collections of the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library in 1977.

Angela Giral, former director of the Avery Library, championed the project of bringing these drawings to the Web and reaching out to those who may have been affected by these mass relocations. She explains her personal connection to these drawings:

I, too, was evacuated from the war zone about the same time that these drawings were made in the children’s colonies. I had the good fortune of being evacuated by my family and taken to my grandparents in Algiers. Barely three years old at the time, if I made any drawings they were not preserved. What I remember from later years is stories about my grandfather’s obsession with trying to make me laugh ... I was a perennially sad child.

Joseph Weissberger, in his introduction to "And they still draw pictures!" calls these drawings "autobiographic pages of un-kept diaries." Some of these children never saw their parents again, others went back to Spain at the end of the war, some went into exile, like myself, and grew up in far away lands. My hope is that many are still alive and willing to add some pages to these incomplete autobiographies, bringing them up to date. With the permission of those who write I would like to post the messages in this same web-page. In any case, the information thus assembled will be kept as an electronic component of Avery’s archive on the "Spanish children’s drawings" and may one day also be deposited in the archives on the Civil War now being assembled in Spain.

If you are one of those children, or a relative that can provide some updated information on the life or whereabouts of any of them, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.

Angela Giral, Former Director
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
Columbia University, MC-0301
1172 Amsterdam Avenue,
New York, NY, 10027


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