During World War I, the U.S. government, contractors, and advertisers alike printed large quantities of posters in order to deliver a variety of propaganda messages to the general public. Because they were printed in large numbers, vintage war posters can be more affordable than you might expect.

Even though the United States would not enter World War I until 1917, the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915 prompted artist Fred Spear to create one of the most famous posters of that era. Titled "Enlist," the color lithograph features a mother cradling her child as both sink into the briny deeps—the call to action, ENLIST, is rendered on the poster in large, blocky letters.

Two years later, with the nation fully engaged in the European conflict, artist James Montgomery Flagg riffed on a famous British war-recruitment poster of the day to create his "I Want You For U.S. Army" poster. More than four million copies of the iconic image were reproduced during World War I alone, ensuring Flagg’s place in history as the creator of, and model for, the most famous likeness of Uncle Sam.

Another type of vintage World War I recruiting poster featured appeals to women, such as Edward Penfield’s "Yes sir, I am here!" which shows an earnest young woman standing at attention, saluting, and reporting for duty in the Motor Corps of America. The Christy Girl posters, named for their illustrator, Howard Chandler Christy, used smiling, mildly provocative women clad in men’s uniforms to encourage men to enlist in the Navy and Marines.

The vintage war posters of World War II expanded the appeals of patriotism and service to country. Posters encouraged Americans to plant Victory Gardens, to conserve fuel by walking to the store, and to buy war bonds ("Give War Bonds for Christmas" instructs a simple green-and-red, holly-leaf-decorated poster from the U.S. Government Printing Office).

J. Howard Miller’s "We Can Do It!" is perhaps the most famous vintage poster from that period. Published by Westinghouse, it features an illustration of a young female factory worker wearing a red-and-white polka dot headscarf and rolling up the sleeve of her blue work shirt. The woman in the poster is often referred as Rosie the Riveter, but the image was actually taken from a wire-service photograph of a 17-year-old named Geraldine Hoff.

Another category of World War II poster was unabashedly ideological and unapologetically tough in its depiction of the enemy. Karl Koehler and Victor Ancona won an award for thei...

If the Germans were depicted as evil madmen, the Japanese were portrayed as bucktoothed and inhuman drones. Flagg updated his World War I recruitment poster to create a hatless, muscular Uncle Sam, wrench in hand, with the words "JAP… You’re Next!" above his head. And Douglas Aircraft Company produced numerous unflattering caricatures of the Japanese to encourage its employees to conserve materials, lest they play into the hands of the enemy.

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Recent News: Propaganda War Posters

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KDLT News, March 24th

The DAV will provide a light lunch, refreshments, and door prizes from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.. Vietnam Era Veterans are invited to share memorabilia and pictures. The DAV has a display of posters, prints, and 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Posters...Read more

Burning with innovation, drowning in incoherence
The McGill Daily, March 23rd

Still, the set and production create distinct and immersive atmospheres for both settings – first a clinical care facility with its checkered vinyl floors and then a bar littered with anti-war posters. There is also no lack of innovation in the...Read more

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New Zealand Herald, March 21st

The class looked at posters from the war to judge the propaganda urging soldiers to go to war. Mr Colquhoun said he hoped to plan a class trip to the Anzac Day dawn service. Eden Price, 9, said she had learned about how during the war posters were put...Read more

Manitowoc County Arts & Entertainment Update
Herald Times Reporter, March 18th

The Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers is exhibiting Russian Civil War posters from 1918-1923 in the exhibition "Workers of the World, Unite!" through April 30. An opening reception will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, March 28...Read more

Treasure of World War II posters comes to light at Grove City College
Tribune-Review, March 14th

The popularity of war posters has never faded, said William L. Bird, curator of the Division of Political history at the Smithsonian Institution and co-author of “Design for Victory: World War II Poster on the American Home Front.” “The Office of War...Read more

Getting Ready for Civil War: Cool Fan Made Captain America: Civil War Posters
moviepilot.com, March 9th

The MCU fan base is already starting to look past The Avengers: Age of Ultron to the next epic battle Captain America: Civil War. MCU fan art is also taking a stand. In the Civil War between Captain American and Iron Man fan artists are positioning...Read more

'Salem' Season 2 SPOILERS: WGN America Releases New 'Witch War' Posters ...
Fashion & Style, March 2nd

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Past Tense Oregon: War posters go on display Saturday at Oregon Historical ...
OregonLive.com, February 27th

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