Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” was first published anonymously on Jan. 10, 1776, and is considered the most popular pamphlet of the Revolutionary Period. (Jos Sances / CSPG)

Political posters have a long history in the United States.

According to Business Insider, that history starts with Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere and others creating works of propaganda art. Their artwork was distributed throughout the 13 colonies in pamphlets and other visual mediums to inspire patriots to fight for independence from Great Britain in the Revolutionary War.

Over 250 years later, the Center for the Study of Political Graphics continues this revolutionary tradition.

Founded in 1988, CSPG is an activist, educational and research archive in Los Angeles that collects and preserves political posters. CSPG’s collection includes more than 85,000 domestic and international posters relating to movements for social change. The graphics’ time range stretches from the 19th century to the present day and includes the largest collection of post-World War II political posters in the country.

Every one of the posters has a story of struggle and opposition that you won’t find in a standard history book. Each has the capacity to generate dialogue and raise consciousness. They are powerful tools that can be used to educate and inspire people to action.

Carol Wells, founder and executive director of CSPG, gave Truthdig a tour of its archive and shared some of the stories behind the political posters in the collection.

We used Evrybit to document our visit.

CSPG’s newest exhibition, “Too Hot to Handle: Posters on Climate Change, Pollution & Environmental Justice,” premieres Saturday, May 14, at Mercado la Paloma in Los Angeles, 3655 S. Grand Ave., from 3 to 6 p.m. The exhibition runs until June 30.

Your support matters…

Independent journalism is under threat and overshadowed by heavily funded mainstream media.

You can help level the playing field. Become a member.

Your tax-deductible contribution keeps us digging beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that unearths what's really happening- without compromise.

Give today to support our courageous, independent journalists.