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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ANZAC Day, War, PTSD And Honesty – The Matt Molloy StoryMy Sunshine Coast (press release), April 27th
In fact in early marches, we had to dissuade Dad from marching with hand written anti-war posters which he wanted to hold high. On some occasions we didn't succeed. But this time, and probably the last time for him, he couldn't be bothered. His very ...Read more
Graphic Art in Support of the War EffortStrategy Page, April 24th
Drawing on the collections of the Historial de la Grande Guerre, a Great War museum in Peronne, historians Hadley (La grande guerre de Léon Moulènes, etc.) and Pegler (Soldiers' Songs and Sland of the Great War, etc.I), present a selection and analysis...Read more
Here's events going on around LexingtonWicked Local Lexington, April 23rd
This is an ongoing list of activities in Lexington. Events run in chronological order. To submit events for the Around Town listing, email a 100-200 word description of the event to email@example.com. All events must be submitted by 9 a.m. Monday...Read more
Käthe Kollwitz's beauty in the face of adversityThe Local.de, April 23rd
As well as the exploration of her personal loss of a son, she became an outspoken pacifist during the war, drawing many anti-war posters. The face of Ernst Barlach's Angel, Germany's most famous sculpture remembering the First World War, is modelled on ...Read more
In the days before coeducation at the college level became widespread, Sweet ...New York Times, April 23rd
Anna Chao Pai is the granddaughter of a Chinese warlord whose family inverted the usual immigrant trajectory when they arrived in this country in the 1940s. “Riches to rags was the evolution of their American experience,” Dr. Pai said recently. A...Read more
How War Shaped Women's Fashion Is Showcased In 'The Great War' ExhibitFashion Times, April 11th
Women's changing fashion during and after World War I is the focus of Kent State University Museum's exhibit, "The Great War: Women and Fashion in a World at War, 1912-1922," that works to highlight how war forced women's clothing to adjust to suit...Read more
Step Inside 'The War Is in Me' ArtStory ExhibitThe Moscow Times, April 9th
Vladimir Filonov / MTSoviet war posters like “There is something to drink for,” bottom right, and “Don't blab,” top right, are on show. Over 300 exhibits of wartime art have been crammed into three rooms of ArtStory Gallery, varying from propaganda...Read more
Treasure of World War II posters comes to light at Grove City CollegeTribune-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