A collection of ten World War I posters is now on display in the Briscoe Library. The collection, on loan from the San Antonio Public Library’s Texana Collection, features some very famous vintage posters dating back to 1917, such as Wake Up America, which depicts lady liberty personifying America asleep while the storm of war is brewing behind her, and “Uncle Sam’s” I Want You, considered the “most famous poster in the world”.
The display consists of lithographs depicting war propaganda that were commissioned by the U.S. government to inspire people to enlist. Posters were considered visually appealing, easily reproducible, and conveniently sized to paste on walls of buildings and windows of homes. The Division of Pictorial Publicity reached out to illustrators and encouraged them to volunteer their creativity to the war effort. The artists included James Montgomery Flagg, Charles Buckle Falls, Haskell Coffin, and others whose works also appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post and other popular magazines. These posters are excellent examples of use of advertising strategies and graphic design of the period. They were designed to elicit a patriotic response, an urge to enlist, to pick up a flag, to support the men and women who participated as soldiers and nurses.
The collection is curated by Allison Hays Lane, Archivist with University Health System, who has worked with the vintage poster collection since 2006. The poster collection has traveled throughout the United States with funding from a National Endowment for the Humanities grant from 2008-2012, reaching over 150,000 people.
The collection will be on display in the library through the end of October.
The Washington Post. (2014, July 29). The posters that sold World War I. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/07/29/the-posters-that-sold-world-war-i/
Director, Briscoe Library and Outreach Services