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  • The Historyof

    War Time Posters GRC 101

    Jennifer Maldonado

  • Wake up, America!Americans were not eager to enter the war, and Americans of German ancestry tended to support Germany, not Britain and France. The governments first task was to convince citizens that they must support the war effort without reservation. Here, a woman clad in the stars and stripes represents America and American liberty. (Learn NC Multimedia)

    Poster by James Montgomery Flagg, 1917

  • World War I was to a great extent the end result of the growth of European power throughout the world. The costs and destruction of the war also meant the beginning of the end for European dominance in world affairs, and the United States emerged as the new key player on the world stage.

    Americans in general didn't want to participate in a war that was seen as a European affair. When President Woodrow Wilson finally drew the country into the war, much of the propa-ganda consequently produced was aimed at increasing American sympathies for allied European countries.

    Poster #1 (on the left) here shows without doubt the most famous American piece of propaganda, and indeed one of the coun-try's most famous fictive characters. The Uncle Sam character was already decades old by the time the US entered into World War I. This, his most famous posture, was first printed in 1916.

    The inspiration was taken from poster #2 (onthe right), a British poster printed in 1914, showing Secretary of State for War Lord Horatio Kitchener. Kitchener died two years later when the cruiser he was traveling with struck a sea mine and sank off the Orkney islands. (CREESTOCK: The Evolution of Propaganda Design: US Retro Posters Posted Wednesday, 14 May 2008 by Lars Hasvoll Bakke in Design, Inspiration)

    They Want You!

    When WWI began, posters encouraged the viewer to have pride in their country and to expect a quick and glorious victory. As the war progressed, governments looked to these posters as a way to request its citizens to assist in different ways. The most common use for posters was to encourage men to enlist in the war. The most well-known war propaganda poster is the Uncle Sam I want you for the U.S. army designed by James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960). The photo was originally designed as a cover for an issue of the Leslies Weekly on July 6, 1916 titled What are you doing for preparedness? Over 4million copies were printed between 1917 and 1918 and as Flagg stated, this was The most famous poster in the world (American Treasures of the Library of Congress)

  • Get the word out!

    The army offered men a chance to learn skills that might serve them in a future job or trade. This recruitment strategy still seen today in television commercials was used for the first time in World War I. (NC Learning Multimedia)Poster by: Charles Buckles Falls, 1919

    efore the age of radios and television, governments used posters as a way to communi- cate to its citizens. Posters were an inexpensive and accessible way to link the home front to the military front. They called upon every citizen to do their part and aid their countries at war. War propaganda posters became widely popular a mist WWI. During the war, countries such as France, Germany, Great Britain, and the US produced propaganda posters to gain the support of its citizens.


    Some posters were designed to instill patriotism in the viewer; to make the viewer feel that they too played an important role in the war. Others were designed to strike fear in the viewer and open their eyes to the darker reality of war. As the war pro-gressed and different issues arose, the posters evolved as well to get different messages out to citizens.

    His Liberty Bond, paid for in fullThis poster played more vividly on the guilt of people on the home front. This boy has made his last great sacrifice, the caption reads. Are we, as Americans, doing our part? (NC Learning Multimedia)Poster by: W. A. Rogers, 1917.

  • As the war progressed, so did the needs of the soldiers in combat. As the number of wounded soldiers quickly rose, the government again turned to posters to get the word out to citizens. The ever so famous Become a nurse; your country needs you poster was produced by the American Nurses Association in 1942. The photo taken by William Ritter shows a young Weslee Price Wooten posing as a nurse with Uncle Sam (www.blog.americanhistory.si.edu). The idea behind this poster was to show women the importance and honor that they would have to serve their country as a nurse.

    Poster from: UNT Digital Library - Become a nurse, your country needs you.Color poster of a young woman receiving her nursing cap. A male (only the hands and sleeves are shown) is placing it on her head. He wears blue sleeves with a stars-and-stripes motif on the cuffs. The young woman wears a blue cotton uniform with a white collar, cuffs, and pocket handkerchief. Created By: American Nurses Association. Nursing Information Bureau 1942