Smithsonian Magazine Includes Archives Poster Image

April 16, 2021

In a May 2021 article about the Peace Corps, Smithsonian magazine prominently displays a 1972 poster designed for the 10-year anniversary of the organization. The poster was designed by Patrick Koeller, at that time a student in a Western Michigan University (WMU) graphic design program led by professor Jon Henderson. 

The Peace Corps poster competition was open to students nationwide. “I thought it would be a good idea to give my upper-level students this as a class assignment,” Jon recalls. “It was real; it went beyond a typical class project.”

He led the class in brainstorming ideas for both imagery and copy. Each student left with their own concept, leading to fifteen posters being submitted for judging. Among those entries, one placed in the top three and received a cash prize; “Be about Peace” placed in the top ten, all of which were printed and used for recruiting as well as exhibited at the Smithsonian to celebrate the tenth anniversary.

“The competition jurors commented,” Jon says, “on the strength and thoughtfulness of the concepts and slogans from the WMU submissions.”

Because of the accessibility of the collection of the West Michigan Graphic Design Archives, Smithsonian editors were able to reach out to request, and our team was able to quickly supply, an image of this almost-fifty-year-old poster, among those representing the strength of design over decades.