Posters of the First World War
Distributed for Imperial War Museum
Don’t waste bread! Save two slices every day and defeat the ‘U’ boat.
Some of the most dramatic and compelling efforts to rally the public during World War I came in the form of posters. Posters of the First World War collects more than one hundred posters from America, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy that showcase renewed concern among the warring nations with national character and conduct. Many of the recruitment posters liken the act of joining the military to becoming a man, introducing the now-familiar figures of Tommy in the trenches or the swarthy French poilu. Others are concerned with rationing or fund-raising, urging Americans, for instance, to “Beat back the Hun with Liberty Bonds!” In Germany, where a blockade prohibited the import of food and other necessities, posters suggest resourceful alternatives, encouraging children to collect nettles and fruit seeds for oil.
Many of the posters in this collection remain iconic, but others—while no less fascinating—have been largely forgotten. Posters of the First World War provides a rich slice of social history, pairing the posters with an explanation of what they were trying to
achieve and their cultural and social significance.