|Broadway singer Benay Venuta speaking to the crowd on the steps of the New York Public Library, January 23, 1942.|
Headquartered in New York City, The Victory Book Campaign was founded by the American Library Association and the United Service Organizations to provide free books for American troops to read. To bring attention to their nation-wide call for book donations, the VBC held a series of opening ceremonies on the steps of the New York Public Library in January 1942 and again in January 1943.
Prominent authors and celebrities attracted large crowds. The events were held over several days with different speakers each day. Notables included singer/actress Kitty Carlisle, author Lewis Gannett, film star Katherine Hepburn, Mayor of New York Fiorello LaGuardia, comedian Chico Marx, singer Kay Thompson (future author of the Eloise series), and “strip-tease artist” Gypsy Rose Lee (read more about her contribution to the VBC).
|I recognize actor Danny Kaye and Mayor LaGuardia in the center of this photo, but I'm not familiar enough with 1940s stars to know if any of these women are also celebrities. (photo held in the NYPL collection)|
|Victory Book Campaign opening ceremony on the steps of the New York Public Library, January 23, 1942.|
|Author Lewis Gannet, Broadway singer Mady Christians, and Big Band leader Benny Goodman at the NYPL, January, 29, 1942.|