||Gordon Grant’s poster, “What are You doing to Help?'” is typical of many World War I era posters urging Americans to support the American Red Cross. The Red Cross supplied many of the nurses who served abroad with the American army, and also provided medical supplies, including those made by women Red Cross volunteers on the home front. There were numerous Red Cross fund-raising campaigns during the war and this poster likely accompanied one of them. The black and white image features a lovely woman dressed in a Red Cross nursing uniform. Her eyes seem to engage the viewer, as does her outstretched right hand. She is the focus here, a point emphasized by the black shading behind her; but the wounded soldier is crucial as well. With bandaged head and eyes and an arm in a sling, he graphically represents the damage warfare inflicts, and yet, as is customary with war propaganda, the wounded soldier maintains his dignity. Many other Red Cross posters send a similar message of a strong, nurturing (even maternal) woman helping a vulnerable wounded man. The text is simple but dramatic. The artist uses bold capital letters, especially pronounced in the words “YOU” and “HELP,” thus reinforcing the visual message of engaging the viewer with the need to support the Red Cross
By Dr. Lynn Dumenil, author of The Second Line of Defense: American Women and World War I.
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