Digital Commonwealth

War Posters

Boston Public Library

After the United States entry in World War I, government officials realized that posters were an extremely effective means of communicating information to the general public. Some of America's finest artists, graphic designers, magazine illustrators, advertising agents, and commercial artists contributed to their designs. They were called upon to design for a variety of causes, including recruitment, conservation, solicitation of donations for relief groups, war propaganda, and the various loan campaigns.

The posters were meant to have widespread appeal and were often colorful, with simple legible messages. The majority of the designs followed themes of patriotism and unity. Patriotic symbols such as the Statue of Liberty, the American Flag, Uncle Sam, the Liberty Bell, and easily recognizable government buildings were often depicted in the posters. Posters were displayed in libraries, schools, town halls, factories, churches, and bus and train stations. Merchants, restaurant owners, and grocers were also encouraged to exhibit them.

The widespread distribution and display of these posters kept the American public apprised of the country's war needs. They were a visual call to arms for all citizens.

This is a sampling of American War Posters from the Boston Public Library Print Department's collection of more than 500 such posters.

Locations in this Collection: