The “Mardi Gras of the North” is held for three days every February at Dartmouth and is a right of passage for all who attend this hallowed institution. Our interest in the winter carnival is around their fabulous posters that are produced to accompany the event.
The first poster produced was for the inagural carnival in 1911. It pictures an abstract picture of a skier in flight. There was then a long hiatis on the production of posters to accompany the event. Between 1912 and 1934 there were no posters produced. When they resumed in the 1930s and 40s they were in primarly an “art moderne” style. The 50s saw the posters go through phases of Bauhaus Constructivism and Kitsch.
There is an annual Winter Carnival Poster contest and until 1942 the poster contest was open to design students (from the Pratt Institute) and to Dartmouth students. After 1946 it was open only to students. The judges are a board of “men” from the Dartmouth Carnival Council and the faculty of the College. This description was taken from a 1963 memo outlining the contest.
The carnival has a different theme every year and among our favorites are those pictured here. Original posters are quite collectible. Some years there were slight variations to posters produced, which are an even rarer breed.
We have a nice selection of real, vintage carnival posters on our website:
Reference material: Winter Carnival : A Century of Dartmouth Posters