World War I Posters


World War I Posters


World War, 1914-1918 -- United States -- Posters.


Seven days after America entered the war, President Woodrow Wilson issued Executive Order 2594, creating the Committee on Public Information. Led by George E. Creel, the Committee recruited thousands of artists, writers, historians, and salespeople to convince citizens that the war did not belong only to an administration but to the entire country—and the world. United by a singular goal, volunteers utilized their art to communicate the message of patriotism through public speeches, radio, telegraph, print, and movies. This exhibit’s posters represent only a fraction of the artwork produced throughout the Committee’s tenure, but exemplify what happens when words and imagery are skillfully and intentionally combined—of advertising that works. After all, it was Creel himself who said: “In all things, from first to last, without halt or change, it [Committee on Public Information] was a plain publicity proposition, a vast enterprise in salesmanship, the world’s greatest adventure in advertising.” Their adventure succeeded. The Committee’s influence shaped homefront efforts—from Victory Gardens to food conservation and goal-breaking bond drives, the Committee on Public Information spurred Americans to take action.


The Filson Historical Society Print Collection




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Collection Items

His Home Over There
Providing morale and welfare services for the military, the YMCA operated 1,500 canteens in the United States and France; set up 4,000 YMCA huts for recreation and religious services; and raised more than $235 million for relief work. Designed by…

YMCA United War Work Campaign, November 11-18, 1918
YMCA poster featuring the portrait of General John J. Pershing by S.J. Wauk. Text reads “‘A sense of obligation for the varied and useful service rendered to the army in France by the Y.M.C.A. prompts me to join in the appeal for its further…

For your boy : United War Work Campaign : November 11-18, 1918
Artist Arthur William Brown (1881-1966) illustrated for the Saturday Evening Post and created illustrations for the short stories of authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sinclair Lewis. This poster was produced by the Committee of Public…

Back our girls over there - YWCA
The war opened a variety of employment opportunities to women. A 1918 YMCA “War Work for Women” pamphlet cited 1.5 million women engaged in “War Orders.” This YMCA poster by Clarence F. Underwood (1871-1929) illustrates a Signal Corps worker. Known…

Third Red Cross Roll Call
American Red Cross poster illustrated by Haskell Coffin (1878–1941). Features a Red Cross nurse with outstretched hands. Text reads “Third Red Cross Roll Call”

Make our American Red Cross in peace as in war : "the Greatest Mother in the World"
American Red Cross poster showing a nurse in the fore depicted in the style of Virgin Mary and an oversized red cross with text that reads “Make Our American Red Cross In Peace as in War — ‘The Greatest Mother in the World’ — Third Red Cross Roll…

The Spirit of America
Successor of the “Gibson Girl,” Howard Chandler Christy’s (1873-1952) interpretation put his leading lady into wartime service for the United States Navy, Marines, and Red Cross, as seem here. Christy would become one of the Jazz Age’s most popular…

Keep 'em smiling! Help War Camp Community Service.
Illustration by M. Leone Bracker (1885-1937) of three smiling servicemen and bearing the inscription “Keep ’em Smiling! Help War Camp Community Service – Morale is Winning the War – American War Work Campaign.”

That Liberty Shall Not Perish From The Earth: Buy Liberty Bonds
Steeped in propaganda, Joseph Pennell’s (1872-1926) work for Fourth Liberty Loan depicted terror at America’s shores. Despite the fact that aircraft of the time weren’t making overseas journeys, the poster was effective—two million copies were…

Lest We Perish
The American Committee for Relief in the Near East (ACRNE), as it was then known, raised funds for Middle Eastern and African countries. In the early 20th century nearly one thousand Americans volunteered to travel overseas and raised more than $100…
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