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OBJECTIVE: Navigate through the slides to examine WORLD WAR I posters from the United States in order to learn about the GOALS of WARTIME PROPAGANDISTS. Click the forward arrow to get started
In this poster we see an ape-like creature, half-crazed and baring fangs, carrying a swooning woman. Some have described the woman as a Lady Liberty. This creature carries a club that has “KULTUR” written on it. Based on the German helmet on the creature’s head and he is straddling of a type of border that reads “America,” we can assume that the creature is symbolic of Germany. The viewer is meant to see Germany leaving destruction behind, and carrying away the innocent, after an attack on the homeland. The objective of this poster is the recruitment of soldiers, as seen by the caption, “Destroy This Mad Brute. Enlist U.S. Army”.
In this poster we see a U.S. soldier returning from service in World War I. The poster is designed to call to mind the patriotism (notice the colors used) and devotion to family among potential recruits. The caption “For Home and Country” is reinforced by the soldier’s uniform and his loving family. The enemy helmet around his neck and the medal pinned to his lapel are symbols of the success in service to his country. The objective of the poster is to encourage citizens to finance the war effort through the sale of war bonds—loans from citizens to the government.
In this poster a woman dresses in stars and stripes represents America and American Liberty. The call to action is, “Wake up, America!” Americans were not eager to enter the war, and Americans of German ancestry tended to support Germany, not Britain and France. The government’s first task was to convince citizens that they must support the war effort without reservation. Here, a woman clad in the stars and stripes represents America and American liberty. The objective of this poster is eliminate dissent and unify the country behind the war effort.
In this poster we see a female gardener with a variety of fruits and vegetables going “over the top” of a trench to assist in achieving victory over the enemy. The U.S. flag flies proudly in the background. The poster encourages Americans to plant “victory gardens” so that more of the nation’s farm products could be shipped overseas to feed U.S. soldiers. During the war, the U.S. Food Administration used posters like this one to encourage victory gardens as well as conservation efforts called “wheatless Mondays and Wednesdays,” “meatless Tuesdays,” and “porkless Thursdays.” The objective of this poster is to seek support for the conservation of resources.
In this poster we see a soldier returning from war and facing a student in a graduation cap and gown. The caption reads, “When the Boys Come Home. While I was Over There what were You Doing Here? Students of America how will you answer him?” The poster was created by a home-front organization, the United War Work Campaign. The objective of the poster is to recruit workers in order to increase factory production of wartime materials.
Summary: this lesson was meant to provide an overview of the common objectives of propaganda used in America during World War I. At that time, the daily lives of Americans on the home front were significantly affected. During World War I, the United States established a department of the government whose sole purpose was to convince Americans that they should support the war effort. Posters, songs, films, and advertisements were created and produced to convey a common message; support your troops and your government. To do otherwise would be traitorous. As these posters illustrate, Americans could show their support for the war in many ways.