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

Food is ammunition- don't waste it
Food conservation was encouraged on the home front. Poster designed by John E. Sheridan, (1880-1948). Sheridan created works for publications such as: The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s Weekly, and Ladies’ Home Journal.

Blood or Bread
A haunting depiction of war’s realities used to encourage home front food conservation. The poster reads "Blood or Bread. Others are giving their blood. You will shorten the war- save life if you eat only what you need and waste nothing."

Oh Boy! That's the Girl!
Helen Purviance of Huntington, Indiana served the first Salvation Army doughnut to a homesick doughboy in France on October 19, 1917. Her Hoosier hospitality caught on. Soon other “lassies” were serving 9,000 doughnuts per day to America’s boys “over…

Sure! We'll Finish the Job
A non-combatant wearing Liberty Loan buttons. Designed by Gerrit A. Beneker (1882-1934) for the Victory Liberty Loan campaign, which was the fifth and final Liberty Loan drive. The “job” to be finished, was that of fund raising to pay for the war.

For Home and Country
Poster for the Victory Liberty Loan campaign this one depicts a solider home from battle, embracing his family. By artist Alfred Everitt Orr (1886-)

And they thought we couldn't fight : Victory Liberty Loan
Prior to WWI America’s army wasn’t the super power that it is today and was thought by much of the world to be weak. Here an American soldier unsubtly disproves this notion. Artist Vic Forsythe (1885-1962) worked for William Randolph Hearst at the…

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…

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…

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.”

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…
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