After the United States entry in World War I, government officials realized that posters were an extremely effective means of communicating information to the general public. Some of America’s finest artists, graphic designers, magazine illustrators, advertising agents and commercial artists contributed to their designs. They were called upon to design for a variety of causes, including recruitment, conservation, solicitation of donations for relief groups, war propaganda, and the various loan campaigns.
The posters were meant to have widespread appeal and were often colorful, with simple legible messages. The majority of the designs followed themes of patriotism and unity. Patriotic symbols such as the Statue of Liberty, the American Flag, Uncle Sam, the Liberty Bell and easily recognizable government buildings were often depicted in the posters. Posters were displayed in libraries, schools, town halls, factories, churches, bus and train stations. Merchants, restaurant owners, and grocers were also encouraged to exhibit them.
The widespread distribution and display of these posters kept the American public apprised of the country’s war needs. They were a visual call to arms for all citizens.
This is a sampling of American War Posters from the Print Department's collection of more than 500 such posters.
For more information please contact:
McKim Building, 3rd Floor
Boston Public Library
700 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
617-859-2280 or 617-536-5400