State Historic Site

Trail End

​Poster Art of World War One


HUNDREDS - IF NOT thousands - of posters were created during World War One. Some were used for military recruitment, others for information disbursement, still others for propaganda purposes. All were intended to spear the American public towards action.

Several of these posters have become a part of the American memory. James Montgomery Flagg's poster of Uncle Sam pointing his finger and saying "I Want You for the U.S. Army" is one such iconic image. First adopted as a military poster in 1917, this poster of Uncle Sam is perhaps one of the most recognizable images of the First World War.

The psychological impact of the war poster was of prime importance. Some inspired fear or anxiety, others guilt or shame, still others patriotism, responsibility, longing, faith, pride, desire, inspiration - any number of emotions.

Nearly every organization printed some sort of poster, from church groups and hospitals to cigarette manufacturers and biscuit makers. The Liberty Loan posters were especially successful, as were those distributed by the American Red Cross and the United States Food Administration (USFA). The Liberty Loan posters inspired people to contribute financially to the cost of the war; Red Cross posters urged civilians to provide goods, service and money to help the soldiers and European civilians; the USFA promoted conservation of all types of food in order to help feed the troops.

 (Private Collection)

A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
​April 1997 - December 1998

Keeping the Home Fires Burning

Life on the Home Front During the Great War, 1917-1918

Detail from Red Cross poster, circa 1917 (Private Collection)