• Claire Stokoe
  • Jun 13, 2010

51 Powerful Propaganda Posters And The People Behind

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War Propaganda Posters are well known. But at its core, it is a mode of communication aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Although propaganda is often used to manipulate human emotions by displaying facts selectively, it can also be very effective at conveying messages and hence can be used in web design, too.

Notice that propaganda uses loaded messages to change the attitude toward the subject in the target audience. When applied to web design, you may experiment with techniques used in propaganda posters and use them creatively to achieve a unique and memorable design.

Further Reading on SmashingMag:

In this article, we look at various types of propaganda posters and the people behind it , people who are rarely seen next to their work. You will also see how the drive for propaganda shaped many of the modern art movements we see today. Notice that this post is more than an ultimate showcase of propaganda artists. Something or somebody is missing? Please let us know in the comments to this post!

William Orpen: England, 1917

Orpen studied at the Slade School in London alongside the likes of Augustus John and Wyndham Lewis. He produced some of his best work while at the school and became known for his portraits. A friend of Orpen then arranged for him to paint the pictures of senior military officials, such as Lord Derby and Churchill. In 1917, he was recruited by the government’s head of War Propaganda to the Western front to paint images of war-torn France. It was there that Orpen painted his most famous piece, “Dead Germans in a Trench.”

Dimitri Moor: Russia, 1917–1921

Dimitri Moor (or Dmitry Stakhievich Orlov) changed the face of graphic design in Soviet Russia back in 1918. His work dominated both the Bolshevik Era (1917–1921) and the New Economic Policy (1921–1927). The main theme of Moor’s work is the stark contrast between the oppressive evil and the heroic allies. A lot of pressure was put on Russian workers to rise up against imperialism.

A lot of Moor’s artwork was restricted to black and red. Black was generally used for the main part of the poster, and all of the solid colors for the capitalists. Red was used for socialist elements such as flags and workers’ shirts.

This is a lesser known poster by the artist, appealing for help for those staving from the Russian famine in 1920. It features the single word “Pomogi,” meaning help. The drawing is of an old man who is just skin and bone. The last stalks of barley are barely visible in the background.

El Lissitzky: Russia, 1920

El Lissitzky spent his whole career absorbed by the belief that the artist could be an agent for change and good, and his work in a lot of respects shows this. He himself was a huge agent of change in the artistic movements of the time. He was one of the fathers of suprematism, along with Kazimir Malevich; and along with many of his peers, he changed the look of typography, exhibition design, photo montage and book cover design. Most of the modern techniques we see today and that appear in film and modern Kenetic typography are the product of Lissitzky’s work.

One of his most famous pieces, shown below, really embodies Lissitzky’s work. It is so avant garde that even a lay person could recognize the style. The abstract geometric shapes and clear color pallet scream of modernist art, and yet the poster has a real message. It describes the Russian revolution that took place in 1917. The white circle represents the royalists from the old regime, and the red triangle represents the communists moving in and changing opinion. It has been described as a stylized battle plan for communist victory.

You might also recognize it from Franz Ferdinand’s album cover:

Then in 1921, El Lissitzky accepted a job as the Russian cultural ambassador to Germany. His work influenced a lot of the iconic designs of the Bauhaus and De Stijil movements. His last poster, seen below, was a return to propaganda, with a poster encouraging the Russian people to help Russia build more tanks to win the war against Nazi Germany.

Strakhov Braslavskij: Russia, 1926

Braslavskij was known for his posters that promoted the emancipation of women. During this time in Russia, the idea of gender equality was growing. Emancipated women were seen to be supporters of the communist agenda, and so they needed to be freed from their so-called duties as wives and mothers.

The emancipation of women and the socialist movement went pretty much hand in hand. In the poster below, we see almost a confluence of the sexes. The woman is drawn somewhat androgynously, wearing masculine clothing that hides her female figure, and a cold hard stare that hides her emotions. Behind her is her place of work, showing that women can do the same hard labor as men, and she carries the red flag of the communist movement.

The curious thing is that the image shows not so much the emancipation of women as it does a way to turn women into men, dressing them in men’s clothing, showing them as working in factories, and hiding their femininity. It seems the real reason to emancipate women was simply to increase the workforce and thus strengthen the communist movement.

Hans Schweitzer: Germany, 1930s

In Germany in the 1930s, propaganda was in full swing and being used by Hitler’s advisers to call the German people to arms and spread lies about the Jews. One of the most famous artists behind Nazi propaganda was Hans Schweitzer, known as “Mjolnir.” This poster by Hans Schweitzer shows the typical pro-Nazi theme of the German army’s strength, depicting an S.A. man standing next to a solider. The text reads, “The guarantee of German military strength!”

This next poster by Mjolnir, titled “Our Last Hope: Hitler” was used in the presidential elections of 1932, when Germany was suffering through its great depression. Nazi propagandists targeted the German people who were unemployed and living on the breadline, and they suggested Hitler as their way out, their savior.

The propaganda then used the scapegoat of the Jews, blaming them for all of Germany’s problems and the war. Many posters were entitled, “He is guilty for the war.” This was the key message of Hitler to start his campaign of terror and for the ethnic cleansing that ensued. Almost the entire campaign from beginning to end was driven by the artist Mjolnir. Just as the media molds public opinion today, Mjolnir most definitely molded the opinion of the German people through his designs. There is no doubts about the immorality and emotional deception of these designs; they are still worth mentioning because they were extremely powerful and effective at the time.

Valentina Kulagina: Russia, 1930

Kulagina was one of the few female poster artists to emerge from the 20th century. Her art was heavily influenced by suprematism, and you can see the similarity between her work and that of El Lissitzky. This poster, called “To Defend USSR” was created by Kulagina in 1930. It takes a cubist perspective in its multi-dimensional shapes, and it shows the Red army as huge almost robotic figures, marching from the factories to fight the war. They are surrounded by the tiny white airplanes of the royalists, which appear to have no effect on them at all and in fact seem to be flying through the figures.

Phillip Zec: England, 1930

Phillip Zec was probably best known for his depictions of Nazis as snakes and vultures. At the time, Nazis were usually drawn as bumbling clowns or buffoons. But Zec brought out the more sinister side of the German regime in his drawings. Hitler reportedly hated Zec so much that he added him to his black list and ordered his arrest following the invasion of Britain. He blamed Zec’s Jewish ancestry for his extreme ideas.

This poster by Zec was a call for women to join the war effort by working in the munitions factories.

This ugly toad is former Prime Minister of France Pierre Laval, who decided to work closely with the Nazi command during World War II.

This illustration is about the French Resistance, telling Hitler that it was very much alive.

Gino Boccasile: Italy, 1930

Gino Boccasile was a supporter of Benito Mussolini and produced a lot of propaganda for him. His posters became increasingly racist and anti-semitic as his support for the German puppet state increased. After the war, Boccasile was sent to prison for collaborating with the fascist regime. The only work he could find after his release from prison was as a pornographic artist and working in advertising for Paglieri cosmetics and Zenith footwear.

He became well known for his advertising and pornography.

Pablo Picasso: Spain, 1937

Picasso painted Guernica in response to the bombing of the town by Germany and Italy, which were following orders from Spanish Nationalist forces, on 26 April 1937. It must be said that it was commissioned to Picasso long before the bombing of the town und was supposed to be a classic painting first; after the bombings, Picasso changed his drawing to respond to the recent bombing. The giant mural shows the tragedy of war, using innocents civilians as the focal point. It became a huge symbol of anti-war, and upon completion it was exhibited worldwide to spread the message. The piece also educated other countries about the horror of the Spanish Civil War, which till then most people had never heard of.

Norman Rockwell: US, 1939

Norman Rockwell is probably one of the best known of the propoganda movement. He admitted that he was just a propaganda stooge for the Saturday Evening Post. The newspaper paid many artists and illustrators to whitewash American news with patriotism and propaganda for around 50 years.

His work has often been dismissed as idealistic or sentimental. His depiction of American life included young boys running away from a “No swimming” sign, and happy-go-lucky US citizens going about their business unaware of the crumbling world around them.

Rockwell’s famous Rosie the Riveter poster is shown below, representing the American women who worked in the munitions and war supplies factories during World War II. This was a call to arms for the women of America to become strong capable females and support the war effort.

J. Howard Miller’s “We Can Do It!,” commonly mistaken to depict Rosie the Riveter, conveyed the same message:

Rockwell was always unhappy with the politics of the Saturday Evening Post, so in his later years, he took up the controversial subject of racism in America. He became respected as a painter for these hard-hitting pieces of American culture, much more so than for his work for the Saturday Evening Post. The piece below is called “The Problem We All Live With.” It is not known whether this painting is based solely on the Ruby Bridges story, because it was also thought that the idea came from John Steinbeck’s book Travels With Charley .

The subject was the integration of black children in American schools. Little Ruby Bridges was filmed making her way into the William Franz School at 8:40 am. At this time, a gigantic crowd of 150 white women and male youth had gathered. They threw tomatoes and shouted vile comments at the tiny girl. It is hard to look at this picture without being affected.

Xu Ling: China, 1950

It is hard to find details on these Chinese artists, but we can focus on what they intended to convey with their artwork. This piece is a caricature of the American commander in Korea at that time, General MacArthur. It shows the US as an aborrent evil, and Macarthur is shown stabbing a Korean mother and child. Bombs labeled US are being dropped on cities in China in the background as the US invades Korea.

Ye Shanlu (???): China, 1952

Again, little is known of the artist, but we do know this piece told people to get immunized against any epidemics to combat germ warfare. The Chinese were convinced that the US was planning to use bacterial weaponry against them, so they set about organizing massive inoculation drives to protect the Chinese people.

Ning Hao: China, 1954

Along the lines of Rosie the Riveter, this Ning Hao piece reflects women being asked to work in the factories alongside men, partially to support their emancipation, but mostly to increase the labor force in China.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Ireland, 1968

Jim Fitzpatrick was a well-known Irish Celtic artist of his time, but he is probably best known for his Che Guevara poster in 1968. It is said that Fitzpatrick took the death of the revolutionary personally. He had once met him when Guevara flew into Ireland in 1963 and checked into the Marine Hotel pub in Kilkee. Fitzpatrick was only a teenager at the time and had been working there over the summer. The poster became a global icon during the anti-Vietnam war protests and is now the symbol of F.A.R.C. in Columbia, a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary guerrilla organization, which is involved in the ongoing Colombian armed conflict. Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), a revolutionary group based in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico, uses this symbol as well.

The image was also used during the violent Paris student riots in 1968. Across the rest of the West, the Marxist Che Guevara image is overused by any kid suffering from teenage angst.

Huynh Van Thuan: Vietnam, 1972

I could not find any information about Huynh Van Thuan, but I found this piece reminiscent of 1960s movie posters about the Vietnam war and so decided to include it.

Micah Ian Wright: US, 2003

After Micah Wright graduated, he worked a while for Nickelodeon and wrote for The Angry Beavers cartoon. Then in 2003, just before the invasion of Iraq, Micah published his anti-war protest book. The book was filled with satires of old war propaganda posters that Micah had reprinted with modern war messages.

Brian Lane Winfield Moore: US, 2009

Brain Moore is a modern propaganda artist who exhibits his work on his blog . He lives in Brooklyn and is probably best known for his promotion of net neutrality and his work during the 2009 Iranian election protests. The posters are based on old WWII propaganda posters but updated in their message to match today’s technology and Web culture.

This poster was a comment on the 2009 Iran election protests. He borrowed the old “loose lips” refrain and replaced it with tweets.

This next one was about the proposed Internet regulation that would supposedly curb illegal activities on the ‘net and help fight the “war on terror.”

Unknown artist: UK, 2010

I could not identify the artist behind this one but had to include it for its clever use of old Tory values and the play on the Scooby Doo gang’s unveiling of the monster. The Tory party now occupies 10 Downing Street, and David Cameron is now Prime Minister of United Kingdom. This poster shows the lack of faith in Cameron’s promise to be a force for change and not just another Thatcher.

Nick Griffin is not an artist, he is the chairman of the British National Party (BNP). Just as most other national parties across the globe, BNP is a good example of propaganda techniques being used to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. BNP has used them to build their hate-filled ranks for years. BNP is extremely good at speaking to people in plain, emotional language and affecting those who experience personal problems and want to find someone who can be blamed for these problems.

Just like many other national parties, BNP is blaming foreigners for these problems and uses strong religious metaphors to deliver the message. Very powerful, yet extremely unethical. This is an example of propaganda being used to manipulate people in a very deceptive, unfair manner.

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World War Propaganda Posters


Propaganda is the art of influence that seeks to manipulate an attitude of a group of people toward a cause or political position. By its nature, it not impartial and is usually biased. It is often selective with the facts or truths it presents, and will often appeal to fears or concerns of the group it is targeting. Over time, propaganda has acquired strongly negative connotations and can seem quite outdated by today’s standards. However, during both World Wars I and II, propaganda posters caught the eye and influenced the populace, with their striking artistic style still rippling through art to this day. We have taken a look at some prominent and interesting examples from both sides.

Uncle Sam (U.S.A)

“I Want You for U.S. Army”

The image of Uncle Sam (often viewed as the personification of the United States) from the World War I recruitment poster has become one of the U.S.A.’s most iconic images. James Montgomery Flagg, a prominent U.S. artist, designed 46 posters for the government, but his most famous was the “I Want You for U.S. Army”. Versions of the poster were then used again for World War II.

By James Montgomery Flagg

propaganda posters examples

During both World Wars, posters were meant to instill people with a positive and patriotic outlook on the conflict. Posters were encouraging not just men to join the army, but every citizen of the United States to contribute to the war effort and do their part, whether at home or abroad. As we can see in the above example, red, white and blue are the colors which dominate the poster.

Treat ‘em Rough (U.S.A)

“Treat ‘em Rough” 1917

This poster, by artist August William Hutaf was created for the United States Tank Corps.

By Hutaf, August William

propaganda posters examples

This Is How It Would Look in German Lands (Germany)

“So Säh es aus in Deutschen Landen” 1918

A contrast from the usual stark colors that are in a number of propaganda posters, the artist, Egon Tschirch, worked as a freelance painter in Rostock. His trips around southern France, Africa and Tunisia brought vivid color and luminosity to his work. Tschirch was also a soldier in World War I.

By Egon Tschirch

propaganda posters examples

The colors in the poster stuck with red and black, which were used in a great deal of Germany’s propaganda work, as well as the gothic script. In the poster we can see two French howitzers that are firing on a city on the banks of the Rhine, where great plumes of smoke rise from the industrial areas.

Lord Kitchener (Britain)

“Your Country Needs You” 1914

Perhaps one of the most famous recruitment posters of World War I showing Lord Kitchener. The poster depicts Lord Kitchener, who was the British Secretary of State for War, wearing the cap of a British Field Marshal and calling on the viewer to join the British Army to fight against the Central Powers. The poster would go on to influence the United States and the Soviet Union.

By Alfred Leete

propaganda posters examples

Before the institution of conscription in 1916, the United Kingdom has relied on upon volunteers for the army. However, with the outbreak of World War I, recruiting posters had not really been used since the Napoleonic War. The fact that Kitchener was an actively serving military officer leant credibility to the poster. Le Bas of Caxton Advertising chose Kitchener for the advertisement, saying Kitchener was “the only soldier with a great war name, won in the field, within the memory of the thousands of men the country wanted.”

Motherland (Soviet)

“Motherland Calls” 1941

This was, perhaps, the first and most famous Soviet poster of World War II. The image itself depicts “Mother Russia” in red, the color most strongly linked to Soviet Russia. In her hand she is holding a piece of paper which on it is the Red Army oath.

By Irakli Toidze

propaganda posters examples

The poster was created in July 1941 by Irakli Toidze, a famous socialist realism artist, during the first days of the Great Patriotic War. Over time, it has become one of the most reconcilable pieces of Soviet art, and stands as a symbol of Russian liberation. The Motherland Calls also influenced Russia’s largest statue, also dubbed “The Motherland Calls” (The Mamayev Monument), which stands in Volgograd (former Stalingrad).

Manchukuo (Japanese)

“With the cooperation of Japan, China, and Manchukuo the world can be in peace” 1935

Japanese propaganda tended to rely on pre-war elements of statism in Shōwa Japan. Later, new forms of propaganda were introduced during World War II to persuade occupied countries of the benefits of Japanese rule. These attempted to undermine American troops’ morale, counteract claims of Japanese atrocities, and make it appear as though the Japanese were victorious.

By Manchukuo State Council of Emperor Kang-de Puyi

propaganda posters examples

The poster above is of “Manchuko”; its purpose is to promote harmony between Japanese, Chinese, and Manchu peoples. Its caption reads: “With the help of Japan, China, and Manchukuo, the world can be in peace.” The flags shown are, left to right: the flag of Manchukuo; the flag of Japan; the “Five Races Under One Union” flag.

The More We Fight, the Stronger We Are (China)

“The More We Fight the Stronger We Are. The More Enemies [we] Fight the Weaker They Get” 1940

Earlier Chinese propaganda posters are largely associated with the image of Mao Zedong, as well as the rising sun over a sea of red flags. Even before this, during the long march (1934–1935), graphic sheets were produced and distributed to the local people to support and propagate the Communist ideology. They were originally simply designed in black and white, being distributed between the local populace.

Credit: Shihlun

propaganda posters examples

The above poster uses red once again, and served to garner support for the Chinese to overthrow the Japanese troops that had occupied their land. After the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, propaganda posters became even more popular method for spreading the message about the Communist party.

Drive Them Out (Italy)

“Cacciali via!”

The Fascist regime used propaganda heavily to influence its citizens. This included pageantry and rhetoric, its purpose being to inspire the nation to unite and obey. In the beginning, propaganda was under the control of the press office, until a Ministry of Popular Culture was created in 1937. Two years before, a special propaganda ministry was created, whose purpose it was to espouse fascism, refute enemy lies, and clear up ambiguity.

By Ugo Finozzi

propaganda posters examples

Posters were a powerful propaganda tool, and many were designed by some of Italy’s leading graphic artists. The above poster shows a mother clinging to her child as a soldier, holding a dagger, rushes forward toward flames with the text “Drive them out!”. It was created by Ugo Finozzi.

Pearl Harbor Warbirds

10 Unforgettable WW2 Propaganda Posters with Explanation

During American involvement in World War II from 1941–45, the government used propaganda to increase loyalty to war efforts and commitment to victory. Through a diverse set of posters, propagandists encouraged hatred toward the enemy and support for America’s allies. Some images illustrated over-the-top caricatures against ethnic groups associated with the enemy. These bred distrust and racism against foreigners and fellow Americans alike. Others inspired the civilian U.S. population to contribute to the war through rationing, farming, and joining the work force.

In this blog post, we feature some timeless WW2 propaganda posters with explanation for each. These posters each played a unique role in driving nationwide war efforts and mobilizing an entire country into action. 

1. Dig On for Victory

A rural backdrop with a farmer proudly carrying out his harvest from the fields. In an effort to decrease reliance on imports and instead boost domestically grown crops, the government encouraged families to grow “Victory Gardens”. Any free plot of land was used to plant vegetables and other crops, even in the concrete jungle of New York City. The poster pictured was released in Britain, but was just one of many variations used in the campaign across the United States, Canada, Australia, and Germany.

2. They Do It…So Can We

3. we can do it, 4. do with less- so they’ll have enough.

During the last three years of the war, common household goods like sugar, shoes, dairy, meats, and gas became scarce. Americas were given ration stamps for these kinds of items to limit how much they could consume. This also ensured that enough resources were left to maintain troops abroad, which became a priority. In the final period of the war, the government severely limited rubber and leather shoes. Even rapidly growing children had to make due.

5. Keep ‘Em Firing

6. loose talk can cost lives, 7. i’d join the navy, 8. i want you for u.s. army, 9. of course i can, 10. avenge pearl harbor.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, this poster brought up a feeling of revenge in Americans. The solution for vengeance? Bullets. With smoke billowing up to the Japanese bombers above, Uncle Sam is shown in the foreground wearing a patriotic shirt. His body language clearly shows his desire for revenge and encourages Americans to engage in war on the Pacific front.

Liked these WW2 propaganda posters with explanation? To learn more about WWII History and Pearl Harbor, visit the Pearl Harbor Warbirds blog . See below for further related reading:

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Experience an immersive two-hour adventure that allows you to relive history as a Naval Aviator and also fly Pearl Harbor like it was on December 10th, 1941. Learn more about the  Admiral’s Warbird Adventure .

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propaganda posters examples

Famous propaganda posters from the last 100 years

Michele Zipkin

Propaganda is defined as thoughts, ideas, or facts that are disseminated in order to further a cause or movement—or hinder an opposing one. The history of propaganda is rich, dating all the way back to the 15th century. However, it didn’t become mainstream, at least in the U.S., until 1914 at the start of World War I.

A couple of propaganda posters that have really stuck to the wall include the image of the woman commonly mistaken for Rosie the Riveter, which came out in the 40s but later took on a feminist connotation, and the iconic image of Che Guevara that has been associated with so many famous protests. These posters have stood the test of time and remain woven into our society, some of them more than 100 years after their initial creation.

Stacker highlighted 50 famous propaganda posters associated with major wars and political movements throughout history, including those from different countries and time periods. Read on to see the origins of Uncle Sam, and where the phrase “loose lips sink ships” came from.

You may also like: D efining historical moments from the year you were born

propaganda posters examples

I Want You for US Army

This American poster is widely regarded as the most famous poster in the world , although it was inspired by a British poster bearing a similar slogan. It made its debut on the cover of the publication Leslie’s Weekly in 1916, depicting “Uncle Sam” urging Americans to enlist in the army as America entered World War I. 

propaganda posters examples

Rosie the Riveter

On the heels of a cultural phenomenon (including a popular song of the same name ), Norman Rockwell created this image of “Rosie the Riveter” in 1943 to represent American women working in munitions factories during World War II.

propaganda posters examples

This poster of former President Obama is largely associated with his 2008 election campaign, and also exists in different versions with words like “Change” and “Progress” beneath the same image. It has been the subject of legal controversy when it was revealed that its creator, Shepard Fairey, was accused of usurping the image of Obama from a former Associated Press photographer. Nonetheless, the poster is entwined with Obama’s campaign message at the time.

propaganda posters examples

We Can Do It

This iconic poster from 1943—often confused with the original Rosie the Riveter—made quite a splash in the U.S., but not necessarily during World War II. Though widely associated with the feminist movement, its original intention was to improve morale for the female employees of Westinghouse Electric . It resurfaced in the early '80s, at which point it gained popularity and acquired its woman-power connotation.

propaganda posters examples

Destroy this Mad Brute, Enlist

Printed in 1918, this WWI-era image depicts German militarism embodied by a ferocious gorilla standing on the ground (labeled “America”) carrying a bloodied club as well as a young woman. The poster served as another call for American men to fight in the war.

propaganda posters examples

"Guerillero Heroico"

Alberto Korda took this iconic photo-turned poster of Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara in 1960. The image gained substantial cultural traction by the end of the '60s when Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick used it to create a poster. It first appeared in the U.S. in 1968 on New York City billboards and has come to symbolize rebellion on a large scale. The image title means “Heroic Guerilla Fighter.”

propaganda posters examples


One of the most popular symbols of the British Suffragette Movement , this poster depicts a woman struggling to get by in a rowboat, while a man sails smoothly in his sailboat—symbolizing women’s struggle to achieve the right to vote.

propaganda posters examples

Britons Wants You: Join Your Country's Army

This poster featuring British war minister Lord Kitchener —pointing for the sake of military recruitment—served as the inspiration for the American version, which reads “I want you for the U.S. Army.” It was first printed for the cover of the London Opinion magazine in 1914, but came out as a poster shortly after. However, there isn’t much photographic evidence of it having been hung up in public.

propaganda posters examples

Daddy, What did You do in the Great War?

Britain’s army was relatively small at the start of WWI because there was no mandatory enlistment, so the Parliamentary Recruitment Committee was in charge of recruiting the general public to join the army. This was one of their more famous posters, created around 1914 to 1915. The obligation for men to earn money to support their families dissuaded many of them from volunteering, but the PRC used that angle to suggest that children would think that their father’s duty in the army was a more noble calling.

propaganda posters examples


It was not uncommon for Nazi propaganda posters to incorporate the likeness of the monster , which typically symbolized nationalities and philosophical beliefs that deviated from Nazi ideology. This particular poster depicts a monster that represents different aspects of American culture as a whole through its different body parts—one arm holds a money bag, symbolizing greed, and a KKK hood on its head represents nationalism and extremism.

Kep Calm and Carry On

This now-ubiquitous poster originated as a slogan printed by the British government in 1939 to increase morale among the British people at the onset of WWII. It was one of three similar posters with the same design scheme and different wording, all of which incorporated the Tudor Crown. Though it wasn’t necessarily popular in its time, it resurfaced about 15 years ago free of its previous connotation; its slogan was reproduced and parodied on posters, notebooks, and other commodities.

propaganda posters examples

Stamp out the Axis

Dating to 1941, this image of a giant stamp hovering over a Nazi swastika quite literally conveys the U.S. military’s intention of wiping out the Germans in WWII.

propaganda posters examples

Workers of the World Unite!

This Dimitri Moor poster from around 1920 calls for Russian workers to unite against imperialism, juxtaposing the enemy against the bold protagonist. Moor’s classic red and black palette pervades the poster.

propaganda posters examples

Women of Britain Come into the Factories

The U.K. saw many posters encouraging women to take on factory jobs during both World Wars. This 1941 poster calls for women to join the workforce during World War II, in consideration of the men serving in the army who had left their jobs available.

propaganda posters examples

Emancipation of Russian Women

Women appeared prominently on Soviet socialist posters in the early 20th century. Promoting women’s liberation through the lense of socialism, this 1926 poster reads “Emancipated woman—build up socialism.” These words imply that communism cannot thrive without equality among men and women—the woman’s masculinized appearance further symbolizes gender equality.

propaganda posters examples

Become a Nurse: Your Country Needs You

The need for military nurses was high during wartime, so women were widely encouraged to take up the profession. This 1942 image of a young American woman receiving a nursing cap intended to beckon all American women to serve their country by helping wounded soldiers.

propaganda posters examples

Loose Lips Might Sink Ships

The American War Advertising Council created this phrase during WWII, which took the form of a 1945 poster designed to discourage American citizens from talking about sensitive information that could be leaked to war enemies. The image of the sinking ship was the most common pictorial accompaniment to the phrase, which was initially produced for the Seagram Distillers Corporation as an aid to the war effort.

propaganda posters examples

'Kick out the Americans the Unite the Fatherland'

This Korean War-era poster depicts a North Korean soldier literally punching away American soldiers, urging them to pull out of his country.

propaganda posters examples

Help Keep Your School All-American

This Superman-centric poster was distributed in the ‘50s by a version of the Anti-Defamation League for the purpose of advocating for racial and religious tolerance. The poster is dated 1956, but a 2008 auction listing on the Hakes Americana & Collectibles website indicated the copyright is from 1949. It had a small resurgence in the American news a few years ago when Muslims and other minorities were experiencing fairly widespread racism among politicians, corporations and the general public.

propaganda posters examples

It's Our Flag: Fight for it, Work for it

The British Parliamentary Recruiting Committee produced this poster in 1915. The message is pretty clear—it’s a call for men to join the British army at the start of WWI, using patriotic language in conjunction with the Union Jack.

propaganda posters examples

Mao Zedong Cultural Revolution poster

This pro-Mao Zedong poster from the Chinese Cultural Revolution translates to “Long live! Long live Chairman Mao, the reddest and the reddest sun in our hearts!”

propaganda posters examples

Let's Catch Him with his Panzers Down

Dating back to around 1942 , this WWII-era poster depicts a cartoonish version of Hitler in his swastika-print boxers, a literal interpretation of the poster’s slogan. Needless to say, it seeks to inform the American public that the U.S. intends to defeat Germany in the war.

propaganda posters examples

'Did You Volunteer'

This 1920 poster from the Russian Revolution calls for Russian citizens to volunteer for the Red Army , as Lenin had not yet installed a formal military. It is based on the British poster calling for enlistment in the army during WWI. The artist, Dimitri Moor, incorporated a lot of black and red into his work, and typically used red to connote socialist images like flags.

propaganda posters examples

He's Watching You

This 1942 American poster was created to let the public know that the Nazis were watching them. However, some of the public misinterpreted the poster , thinking that the soldier’s helmet symbolized the Liberty Bell. Some factory workers thought that the “he” of the poster represented to be “the boss.”

propaganda posters examples

Step into Your Place

The British Parliamentary Recruiting Committee certainly generated a lot of propaganda posters during both world wars. This one from 1915 communicates a clear message—men are strongly encouraged to join the army to serve their country.

propaganda posters examples

This poster came out in Ireland in 2004 in response to George W. Bush’s move to invade Iraq. It called for a protest attended by Mary Black, Christy Moore, and Damien Rice.

propaganda posters examples

I Want You for the Navy

  Just like men, women were needed to serve in the military during the major wars. This WWI poster calls for women to enlist in the U.S. Navy .

propaganda posters examples

Don't Let that Shadow Touch Them, Buy War Bonds

During World War II, war bonds and war savings stamps provided a source of income for the U.S. government, and Americans were encouraged to purchase them. Buying war bonds also boosted morale among the public. This 1942 poster was particularly emotionally powerful because it depicts children playing in the path of the Nazi swastika. One of the young boys holds a miniature American flag and the other holds an American fighter plane, further symbols of patriotism.  

propaganda posters examples

Save the Wheat and Help the Fleet

During WWI, the British public was encouraged to seek out white bread substitutes so the wheat crop could be used to make bread for the soldiers. In America and Britain, much of the public resorted to bread with wheat substitutes, like corn or barley. This was taken so seriously that eating white flour was likened to helping the enemy.

propaganda posters examples

'To Defend USSR'

Valentina Kulagina was one of few female propaganda artists of the 20th century. Translating to “ To defend USSR ,” this 1930 cubism-esque design depicts the larger-than-life Red Army leaving the factories to fight in the war. The white royalist airplanes flying around them seem not to deter them at all.

propaganda posters examples

For Your Country's Sake Today, for Your Own Sake Tomorrow

Throughout WWII, American women were strongly encouraged to become involved in the war effort. This poster from the early to mid 1940s shows four women dressed in uniforms of the four armed forces units in which they were able to serve: the Women’s Army Corps, the Navy Women’s Reserve, the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, and the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve.

propaganda posters examples

Women of Britain Say—Go

This 1914 poster advocated for British women to contribute to the overall war effort. Women’s traditional roles became blurred during wartime, as they started to work in munitions factories or in various roles at the front.

propaganda posters examples

We the People are Greater Than Fear

Shepard Fairey, who created the iconic posters for Obama’s 2008 campaign, also created a set of three posters to coincide with Donald Trump’s 2017 presidential inauguration. This image of a Muslim-American woman wearing a hijab printed with the American flag, in conjunction with the text, represents a powerful message that “We the people” includes individuals of all races and religions. The other two posters in the set feature Latina and African American women with similarly inspiring phrases.

propaganda posters examples

Together We Win

James Montgomery Flagg designed about 46 posters for the U.S. government during WWI. Here’s one from 1917 aimed at instilling patriotism and positivity in the American public. His posters encouraged men to enlist in the Army, women to join the Red Cross, and members of the general public to make sacrifices for the sake of the war effort.

propaganda posters examples

All Power to the People

Douglas Emory, who helped with the layout of the Black Panther newspaper , created this 1970 poster. The party frequently used the slogan “All power to the people.” This phrase also famously accompanied images of the raised fist, which has mainly symbolized African American rights.

propaganda posters examples

Women in the War: We Can't Win Without Them

Another poster geared toward American women during WWII , this piece dates back to 1942. It bears the image of a female worker riveting a weapon, and calls for women to take up jobs in munitions factories during the war.

propaganda posters examples

Recycle Nixon

This anti-Nixon poster from the Vietnam War era was made as part of Berkeley’s Political Poster Workshop between 1968 and 1973.

propaganda posters examples

Dig on for victory

Dating back to 1941, this poster was created by the British Ministry of Agriculture , whose “Dig on for Victory” campaign encouraged citizens to grow their own crops during wartime rationing. Many public spaces, like parks and public gardens, were allotted as vegetable patches during that time.

propaganda posters examples

'Your Father Is in Danger: Register!'

This German poster from WWI translates to “Your father is in danger, register,” and came out shortly after the war ended. It calls for German citizens to join the Garde-Kavallerie-Schutzen-Division, or Horse Guards Rifle Division , one of the post-defeat units that offered military stability after soldiers returned from the war. 

propaganda posters examples

Free Labor Will Win

Printed in 1942, this poster of a welder standing in front of an American flag promotes free labor in the U.S.—as opposed to the slave labor used by its fascist enemies.

propaganda posters examples

Girls Say Yes to Boys Who Say No

Folk singer Joan Baez and her sisters Paulien and Mimi are at the heart of this anti-draft poster from 1968. Baez was very active politically in the '60s, and openly encouraged men to avoid the draft at her shows. Larry Gates created the poster to debunk the notion that resisting the draft was unmanly, and to raise money for the Draft Resistance Movement.

propaganda posters examples

If the Cap Fits, Wear It

Like so many other World War propaganda posters, this one from WWII calls for citizens to join the  Canadian Army .

propaganda posters examples

Of Course I Can! I'm patriotic as can be—and ration points don't worry me!

During WWII, the U.S. government initiated rationing of food to ensure soldiers had enough supplies (and that civilians had equal access to scant resources). This 1944 poster serves to remind Americans not to waste food during the war.

propaganda posters examples

American Red Cross: Our boys need sox, knit your bit

This American Red Cross poster from around 1918 calls for citizens to donate knitted items to U.S. soldiers for when they entered France. Knitters eagerly responded to this call, though they had to adhere to knitting patterns that followed Army and Navy regulations.

propaganda posters examples

Is This Tomorrow? America under Communism

This design serves as the cover of a 1947 comic book written to teach the public about communism’s inflammatory nature. The text on the opening page reads, “Is this Tomorrow is published for one purpose—to make you think! To make you more alert to the menace of Communism.”

propaganda posters examples

Free All Political Prisoners

This famous image depicting the raised fist with a loose chain is another product of the Political Poster Workshop at Berkeley. It clearly opposes the unjust imprisonment of civil rights activists and other American political martyrs. 

propaganda posters examples

Save Bones for Aircraft Production

Similar to posters urging citizens not to waste food, this WWII poster encourages the British public to save bones and scraps , which could be used in the production of military planes and ammunition.

propaganda posters examples

Andre the Giant Has a Posse

Here’s another iconic design by Shepard Fairey, who created the Andre the Giant has a Posse sticker campaign somewhat haphazardly in 1989. It later transformed into simply “Obey the Giant.” While neither design has any inherent meaning, Shepard intended them to be a study in phenomenology, inspiring people to react and question the world around them. Both images have been widely disseminated throughout the world.

propaganda posters examples

'Freedom for Angela Davis'

Angela Davis was a prominent voice in the late 1960s and early '70s protest movement in America, having actively participated in the Black Panther and Communist parties . This famous poster sprang up when Davis was wanted by the FBI for a crime she did not commit. After her arrest, grassroots organizations started popping up both in America and abroad to fight for her release.

propaganda posters examples

United We Stand Divided We Fall

This famous phrase has roots with the ancient Greeks, but it appeared on this U.S. WWII propaganda poster in 1942. Fundamentally, the phrase denotes the idea that if members of a group with cohesive beliefs work individually instead of as a team, they are destined for failure. This concept certainly applies to the American army’s fight to defeat the Nazis during the war.

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propaganda posters examples

Modern Political Propaganda Posters & the Principles of Art

The history of the political poster is long and disputed, but generally dates back to 19th century Europe. However, political propaganda posters did not really gain widespread popularity until World War I. Early in US history, political candidates would send around information via pamphlets with their name and an image. These early examples were purely informative, and while they could be considered art, the locust of “artistic” propaganda and campaign posters is rooted in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Around World War I, the need for aid and assistance grew, and appealing to the general public was essential. Eye-catching graphics and a compelling message proved effective tools for mass produced posters. With these essential principles of design, artists were able to create a memorable and successful campaign.

The first poster in question is from WWI, advertising a campaign for knitters to make socks for servicemen stationed at the front lines.

propaganda posters examples

The first element that draws the viewer’s eye is the very clear message “Our Boys Need Sox Knit Your Bit.” Enclosed by the large dark box that immediately catches the eye, the inspiring call of the campaign is clear. The use of scale on the word “SOX” clearly communicates what it is the Red Cross was looking for. The angle of the knitting needles and the movement of the yarn also leads the eye back down to the important information. While not perfectly symmetrical, there is plenty of balance from the left side to the right side, a universally satisfying principle of design. The warm color palette, while popular at the time, also lends warmth and hominess to the poster, encouraging everyday people to take up a greater cause.

After the start of WWI, the need for more troops in Great Britain increased, and an iconic poster was created. Designed by Alfred Leete in 1914, the poster depicts Lord Kitchener pointing at the viewer. This poster inspired many copies, most notably the “Uncle Sam Wants You” version in the United States. Similarly to the knitting poster, this poster also plays with scale to bring the eye around to the important sections. The foreshortening of the pointing arm employed new artistic norms to give the effect that he is directly pointing at the viewer, individualizing the visual experience.

propaganda posters examples

The popularity of political propaganda posters only increased after WWI. Posters for campaigns, government motions, and opposition parties flourished. Take the 1938 poster for the Labour Party in England, for example. The first aspect that a viewer may see is the stark contrast between the background, the text, and the imagery. The slanted angle of the text at the top mimics the angle of the key in the middle. This movement centers the eye in the evocative image of a clenched fist. Unlike previous posters, scale isn’t the primary design factor, and  the emphasis is rooted contrast and dynamic positioning. The key is composed of text itself, the “Savage Government” phrase a subtle and witty rebuke of dominant political forces.The stability of the “Labour” text both in the alignment of the text and the color that was used introduces themes of strength in relation to the Labour Party itself. This positioning implies that if one were to vote for the Labour Party, it would bring stability to an askew government.

propaganda posters examples

When WWII began, another round of wartime posters were commissioned by the British government. Artist Abram Games designed multiple posters, all with various messages to the people, from growing your own food to warnings about illicit behaviors. His work took a very interesting approach with a split of text and imagery based posters. One such poster is one warning soldiers about talking to the wrong people and potentially endangering the lives of servicemen.

propaganda posters examples

This particular poster combines a number of contemporary design principles to elicit an emotional response. Unlike previous examples, the text is not the primary communicative principle, instead reinforcing the dizzyingly terrifying image. The strong use of movement in the radiating spiral leading to three figures being pierced by a sword conveys the urgency and seriousness of the issue. The repetition of the figures highlights the stakes of the issue, and the vague, centralized face of the soldier puts a contemporary viewer into the image. The intense red of the spiral matches the red of “Your,” which further links the soldier and the consequences of their actions.

Another iconic poster from WWII is the “Rosie the Riveter” poster that encouraged women to join the workforce, particularly in the defense industry. Designed for Westinghouse by J. Howard Miller, the poster features the profile of a woman with her arm flexed. She is shown wearing coveralls and a bandana with a fierce look of determination in her eyes. Above her is a text bubble that says “We Can Do It!”

propaganda posters examples

Here again, contrast is used to emphasize the foreground. The yellow is energetic and attention-grabbing, equating the energy of the modern women to Rosie’s strength. The bulk of Rosie’s body lies on one side of the golden ratio line, while the strong arm is on the other side, a visually satisfying concept overall. The positioning of her arm leads the eye up to the text, the short, punchy message a perfect slogan for the movement. The power of this poster and the meaning behind it has remained constant to this day, with multiple renditions of it being created for various movements, most recently images of frontline doctors and nurses fighting COVID-19.

propaganda posters examples

In the early 60s, variations of Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign poster began to utilize design techniques. Johnson was portrayed looking at the camera, looking away, or with his running mate. Partially due to the growth of photographic interest at this time, photography is heavily used in political posters between the 60s and early 2000s. Interestingly, the text is the focus of the piece, its colorful background contrasted by the black and white image. This image follows a composition technique called the rule of thirds, where the image is broken up into three columns and three rows, with the important elements falling into each one of those sections. Additionally, the layout of the red and blue, iconic colors for US politics, frames Johnson’s portrait, highlighting him as a patriotic American candidate. With Johnson in the middle, he can be shown “bridging the gap” between Republicans and Democrats, bringing the country into the middle.

US posters in the 1970s through the early 2000s showed much of the same style; an image of the candidates in the center with a heavy use of red and blue and other patriotic imagery. In 2008, the return to graphic posters came in the form of a poster by Shepard Fairey .

propaganda posters examples

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign posters were an immediate hit, with multiple imitations flooding social media. The poster itself is simple, with a portrait of President Barack Obama with a single word “Hope” underneath. Contrast is used in this poster via the “paper cut out” style to create forms from the dark tones up to the light. “Hope” is integrated into Obama’s figure, presenting him as the literal embodiment of virtue. The use of color shifting is also prominent, as this poster isn’t a primary red or blue, but more of a nuanced color palette. This change in pace from previous campaign posters signaled a youthfulness and “coolness” of a new campaign.

propaganda posters examples

Another effective poster in the 2010s came from the Hillary Clinton campaign of 2016. Designed by Michael Bierut, the logo is a simple H with an arrow passing through it. While it wasn’t an instant hit, and caused some uproar within the graphic design community, it does tell a story. First and foremost, the Clinton 2016 poster is the most pared down of the posters in this article, and it marks a new era of campaign design which is simplistic, and stark. Strong lines and blocky shapes lend an aura of strength and stability, while the arrow passing through shows progress and movement. The combination of these elements combine to form an H, successfully advertising the candidate. This poster and others from 2016 do show a return to the primary blue and red amidst a more divided political landscape.

Throughout history, posters employ a number of design techniques to subliminally message their viewers and pull in attention. Political posters and advertisements use the part of the brain that responds to art, connecting to people on a more emotional level. Graphic design has been and continues to be a strong form of communication, and it will be interesting to see how it progresses over time.

Benjamin Krudwig

Los Angeles based designer with a passion for photography and textiles. Follow @benjamin_krudwig on instagram!

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Collection Posters: World War I Posters

Featured content, about this collection.

This collection makes available online approximately 1,900 posters created between 1914 and 1920. Most relate directly to the war, but some German posters date from the post-war period and illustrate events such as the rise of Bolshevism and Communism, the 1919 General Assembly election and various plebiscites. 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.

The majority of the posters were printed in the United States. Posters from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia are included as well. The posters range in style from anonymous broadsides (predominantly text) to graphically vibrant works by well-known designers. The Library acquired these posters through gift, purchase, and exchange or transfer from other government institutions, and continues to add to the collection.

Background and Scope

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. As a valuable historical research resource, the posters provide multiple points of view for understanding this global conflict. As artistic works, the posters range in style from graphically vibrant works by well-known designers to anonymous broadsides (predominantly text).

The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division has extensive holdings of World War I era posters. Available online are approximately 1,900 posters created between 1914 and 1920. Most relate directly to the war, but some German posters date from the post-war period and illustrate events such as the rise of Bolshevism and Communism, the 1919 General Assembly election and various plebiscites.

This collection's international representation is among the strongest in any public institution. (For other major holdings, see the Related Resources page.) The majority of the posters were printed in the United States. Posters from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia are included as well. The Library acquired these posters through gift, purchase, and exchange or transfer from other government institutions, and continues to add to the collection.

World War I and the Role of the Poster

World War I began as a conflict between the Alllies (France, the United Kingdom, and Russia) and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary). The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary and his wife Sophie ignited the war in 1914. Italy joined the Allies in 1915, followed by the United States in 1917. A ceasefire was declared at 11 AM on November 11, 1918.

The poster was a major tool for broad dissemination of information during the war. Countries on both sides of the conflict distributed posters widely to garner support, urge action, and boost morale. During World War II, a larger quantity of posters were printed, but they were no longer the primary source of information. By that time, posters shared their audience with radio and film.

Even with its late entry into the war, the United States produced more posters than any other country. Taken as a whole, the imagery in American posters is more positive than the relatively somber appearance of the German posters.

Poster Themes

Vincent Aderene, artist. Columbia calls--Enlist now for U.S. Army

The posters in the Prints and Photographs Division deal primarily with recruitment, finance, and home front issues. Although produced in different countries, many designs use symbols and messages that share a common purpose. (To explore the full array of topics and symbols supplied as index terms on individual poster descriptions, see the Subject/Format facet .)

Enlistment and Recruitment Posters

Many posters asked men to do their duty and join the military forces. In the early years of the war, Great Britain issued a large number of recruitment posters. Prior to May of 1916, when conscription was introduced, the British army was all-volunteer. Compelling posters were an important tool in encouraging as many mean as possible to enlist. Four rarely seen posters printed in Jamaica and addressed to the men of the Bahamas illustrate the point that this war involved many parts of the world beyond the actual battlegrounds [ view Bahamas recruitment posters ].

Alfred Offner, artist. Zeichnet 8 Kriegsanleihe

Women, who weren't being recruited for the military, were also asked to do their part. They could serve through relief organizations such as the YWCA or the Red Cross, or through government jobs. The Women's Land Army was originally a British civilian organization formed to increase agricultural production by having women work the land for farmers who were serving in the military. A Women's Land Army was also assembled in the United States.

Posters for War Bonds and Funds

In countries where conscription was the norm (France, Germany, Austria), recruitment was not such a pressing need, and most posters were aimed at raising money to finance the war. Those who did not enlist were asked to do their part by purchasing bonds or subscribing to war loans. Many finance posters use numismatic imagery to illustrate their point. Coins transform into bullets, crush the enemy, or become shields in the war effort.

Posters Dealing with Food Issues

Food shortages were widespread in Europe during the war. Even before the United States entered the war, American relief organizations were shipping food overseas. On the home front, it was hoped that Americans would adjust their eating habits in such a way as to conserve food that could then be sent abroad. Americans were told to go meatless and wheatless and to eat more corn and fish. Americans were also encouraged to plant victory gardens and to can fruits and vegetables. In Great Britain, eggs were collected for the wounded to aid in their recovery. In France, the Comité National de Prévoyance et d'Economies sponsored a poster competition among schoolchildren to design conservation posters.

R.G. Praill, artist. Enlisted for duration of the war. Help the national egg collection for the wounded

National Symbols

Many of the posters rely on symbolism to illustrate their point. Uncle Sam appears quite frequently on posters as a symbol for the United States. On other posters, John Bull and Britannia represent the United Kingdom, while France is personified by Marianne. Posters produced by the Allies often depict Germany as a caricature called a "Hun" who was usually portrayed wearing a pickelhaube (spiked helmet), often covered in blood.

Whistler's mother, from the painting "Arrangement in Grey and Black," is used to represent all motherhood on one Canadian poster. Men are asked to join the Irish Canadian Rangers and "fight for her."

The Poster Artists

(Note: Select the name of the artist to view posters he designed.)

Many well-known artists and illustrators contributed their work to the war effort. Even though the British posters were primarily the work of anonymous printers and lithographers, established artists such as Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956) , John Hassall (1868-1948) , and Gerald Spencer Pryse (1881-1956) designed posters as well.

In Germany, Lucian Bernhard (1883-1972) produced many posters notable for their typography. Ludwig Hohlwein (1874-1949) , who worked for most of his life in Munich, was internationally recognized for his integration of text and image and his brilliant use of color. In addition to his posters for the war effort, he designed many travel and advertising posters. Some of his last works were posters he designed for the Nazi Party during World War II.

A. Robaude, artist. 2me Emprunt de la Defense Nationale

Abel Faivre (1867-1945) , a well-known cartoonist, and Théophile Steinlen (1859-1923) , whose cats and Parisian scenes are some of the most recognizable images of the Belle Époque, lent their skills to the war effort and produced posters of considerable emotional depth.

In the U.S., the Committee on Public Information's Division of Pictorial Publicity urged artists to contribute their work in support of the war effort, and hundreds of poster designs were produced. The Division of Pictorial Publicity accepted Joseph Pennell's design for the Fourth Liberty Loan Drive of 1918, for example, which showed New York City in flames. Although the likelihood of enemy attack was small (aircraft of the day could not cross the Atlantic Ocean), the visual argument made for a haunting poster printed in approximately two million copies. The Prints & Photographs Division is fortunate to have works that show different phases of the design process: the original watercolor sketch , a proof for the poster , and the poster that was distributed .

Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952) put the Christy girl into wartime service for the Marines and the Navy, as did other poster creators.

James Montgomery Flagg (1870-1960) designed what has become probably the best-known war recruiting poster: "I Want You for U.S. Army" [ view poster ]. Said to be a self-portrait, this most recognized of all American posters is also one of the most imitated. Flagg had adapted his design from Alfred Leete's 1914 poster of Lord Kitchener . Posters employing a similar composition were used on both sides of the conflict [ view examples ]. The American poster was altered slightly for use in World War II [ view poster ]. Since then, this image of Uncle Sam has been modified and parodied countless times [ view examples of parodies ].

For a full list of names included as index terms on individual poster descriptions, see the browse lists of creators and other associated names .

Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections

World war i and world war ii propaganda posters collection.

Description by Aaron Wirth, Archives and Special Collections Assistant and PhD candidate in the Comparative History Program

Photos by Maggie McNeely

Illustration of military men rushing across a field with bayonets in hand, text: They are giving all Will you send them wheat?

“Food will win the war! You came here to find freedom. Now we must help to defend her. We must supply the Allies with wheat. Let nothing go to waste. United States Food Administration.”

Poster of person in Navy coat and hat posing amidst a yellow background, text: I want you for the Navy Promotion for Any One Enlisting Apply Any Recruiting Station or Postmaster

In the United States, certain illustrators were so popular that they played a dominant role in the production of war posters even though they had not previously been identified with poster art. For example, artist James Montgomery Flagg created a self-portrait for his depiction of Uncle Sam, one of the most widely reproduced images in history (over five million copies are said to have been printed). Cheerful glamour was contributed by Howard Chandler Christy, whose “Christy Girl” enticed men to fight or to buy liberty bonds (“I Want You for the Navy”). In addition, the poster collection at Brandeis includes such other famous artists as Adolph Treidler, Edwin Howland Blashfield, Harrison Fisher, Casper Emerson Jr., Henry Patrick Raleigh and Haskell Coffin, among others.

Illustrataion of Joan of Arc holding up a sword, text: Joan of Arc Saved France Women of American Save Your Country Buy War Savings Stamps

September 22, 2008

US propaganda for food rationing in World War II. Poster text reads: Food is a Weapon. Don't Waste It


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