WWI Poster Art

This entry was posted in Acumen, Exhibitions, Kate Matheny, Uncategorized, World War I. Bookmark the permalink.

Hoole Library is home to over 100 World War I posters — large and occasionally fragile, but still in beautiful color.

You can take a look at full-size facsimiles of some of them at Gorgas Library, as part of our exhibit For Home and Country: America’s Entry into the War to End All Wars.

You can now also find them online!

While there were undoubtedly more posters made for World War II, due to our longer and deeper involvement in that conflict, posters from the first “Great War” provide just as interesting a glimpse of the politics of the day, not to mention the art styles! According to the Library of Congress, “During World War I, the impact of the poster as a means of communication was greater than at any other time during history. The ability of posters to inspire, inform, and persuade combined with vibrant design trends in many of the participating countries to produce thousands of interesting visual works” (source).

Processing our posters was time-consuming. Most had long sides from 30-40 inches, some up to 60 inches, so they required two people to safely manipulate or move. We had to temporarily colonize a couple of large tables to use as work surfaces and order several custom boxes for archival storage. The posters then had to be arranged into series.

The desire to limit future handling — by us and by researchers — made digitization imperative. The digitization process, however, was also complicated by the posters’ size. The smaller ones could be captured with the mounted digital cameras we use in our regular digitization workflow, but the larger items had to be captured using a large scanner, work we had to outsource.

The results were worth the time and effort, though. Check out this sampling:

This poster for the Navy features of the work of illustrator James Montgomery Flagg, famous for his Uncle Sam “I Want YOU” poster, used in both WWI and WWII.

This poster by Belgium-born artist J. Paul Verrees was for the earliest version of the Air Force.

This poster for the U.S. Food Administration, illustrated by L. N. Britton, advises Americans about how to ration their diets.

This poster advertised the second of four Liberty Loans, beginning in October 1917; it would raise $3.8 million.

This poster for the Red Cross was designed by commercial artist William Henry “Haskell” Coffin.

This poster for the YMCA, by artist Gil Spear, promoted of the United War Work Campaign, a large, multi-organization effort to fund entertainment for soldiers.

This poster for the American Library Association features of the work of illustrator Charles Buckles Falls, showing his Art Nouveau influences.

If you’re looking for more ways to learn about WWI, there are other local exhibits to check out:

This entry was posted in Acumen, Exhibitions, Kate Matheny, Uncategorized, World War I. Bookmark the permalink.

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