Books Wanted

Title Books Wanted
Creator C.B. Falls
Format 28 x 42
Description Given the subject matter, it might be surprising to learn that this poster by C.B. Falls for the American Library Association was one of the most widely circulated images during WWI, and was even used again during WWII. C.B. Falls was a respected illustrator who volunteered to work as a propaganda artist for the Division of Pictorial Publicity. As this poster demonstrates, even libraries took part in the war effort by providing soldiers with recreational reading material. The poster depicts a uniformed soldier carrying a stack of books so tall that it reaches even beyond the tip of the bayonet fixed to a rifle over his shoulder. Printing this poster would have likely been expensive compared to other designs due to the large amount of black ink; however, the dark backdrop provides an excellent contrast for the coloring of the books and the bold, white lettering stating “BOOKS WANTED.” Based on the historical relationship between soldiers and sex workers, the U.S. military was concerned with how soldiers spent their downtime during war and promoted reading as a preferred choice for leisure activity. Several propaganda posters not included in this collection warn soldiers against having sex with prostitutes to avoid the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. While Fall’s poster may not have been entirely successful in convincing soldiers to forego the temptations of sex and drugs, it is a wonderful defense of literacy in times of war that remains popular to this day, and an example of the wide range of opportunities available for citizens to “pitch in.”
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