USAHEC Exhibit Archive
   


On February 4, the National Constitution Center
unveiled an exhibit created in partnership with
the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.

The posters shown below will be on exhibition
in the Center's Posterity Hall.

Click here to visit the National Constitution Center.

 

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Click PLAY to watch a presentation on this collection and exhibit by
USAHEC Art Curator Jim McNally

 
 
Within weeks of the United States entering the First World War in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson knew that national support of the American people would be essential to winning the war.

The Society of Illustrators in New York City was tasked to find a way that artists might assist in the war effort. Under the leadership of Charles Dana Gibson, its members launched what became the Division of Pictorial Publicity. It was part of the Committee on Public Information, created by President Wilson and charged with designing posters that would encourage patriotism and sacrifice on the home front. More than three hundred of America's foremost designers, illustrators, painters, and cartoonists worked for the division. They had the responsibility to illustrate for the people the demands of the Great War and to place on every wall in America the call to patriotism and service by showing the stories of courage, suffering, heroism, and, most importantly, confidence for victory.

From the very start of the project, the Philadelphia Sketch Club, with some of the most famous artists in America as members, was well positioned to be at the center of the Division of Pictorial Publicity's war poster campaign. The Club joined in that great artistic effort of inspiring a nation to victory with many of the most successful posters. They were designed by illustrators and artists such as Howard Chandler Christy, Joseph Pennell, C.B. Falls, J.D. Sheridan, and H. Devitt Welsh, the Assistant Secretary of the Division of Pictorial Publicity. From April 1917 to the war's end in November, 1918, illustrators and artists submitted over seven hundred poster designs to various government agencies such as the United States Food Administration, the Liberty Loan Program, and Recruitment, as well as to private groups such as the Red Cross.

Posters made an important contribution to America's successful war effort in World War I. Their brilliant color and urgent demands projected a sense of patriotism: "the stuff that holds a nation together." Artists designed posters with national symbols and icons such as the American flag, the Statue of Liberty, Uncle Sam, and the girl next door to inspire the American nation to contribute to the call of liberty. Every American citizen was asked to stand up and take his or her patriotic place in the defense of our great country. To do less would be un-American. After the war, Congress tallied up the bill and found that two- thirds of the cost of the war was raised by poster bond drives.

The posters in this exhibition were created by Philadelphia Sketch Club artists to inspire Americans during World War I.

About the Philadelphia Sketch Club
This year, the Philadelphia Sketch Club celebrates its 150th anniversary. Its mission remains the same as when it was founded in 1860: "to support and nurture working visual artists, the appreciation of the visual arts, visual arts education, and the historical value of the visual arts to the community."

     
 
Four Minute Men

H. Devitt Welsh
Committee on Public Information
ca. 1917
The Four -Minute Men were named for the four minutes that it took to change the film reel in the "nickelodeon" movie theaters across the country. During the lull in the movie, the Four- Minute Men would make their patriotic presentations to the audience. Their name was a play on the Minutemen of 1775, at Lexington and Concord.
  Americans All!

Howard Chandler Christy
Treasury Department, Victory Loan
1919
When World War l had been over for more than five months, the American Army was still in Germany and France. The troops required support until they could be brought back home. The "Victory Loan" provided that support, raising $5,249,903,300. The "Christy Girl" recognizing the diversity of the "Doughboys," holds the laurel wreath of victory to welcome all servicemen home.
     
 

Books Wanted, For Our Men in Camp and "Over There"

Charles Buckles Falls
American Library Association
ca. 1918

During World War I, the American Library Association (ALA) was responsible for building 40 camp libraries in the United States. The Carnegie Corporation provided $320,000 to build 36 of the camp libraries on military posts around the country.

  Must Children Die and Mothers Plead in Vain?

Walter H. Everett
United States Food Administration, Liberty Bond Drive
1918
In war, hunger becomes a tactical weapon. With the desperate food shortages in Europe during World War I, America had to find a way to feed nations. On May 5, 1917, Herbert Hoover was appointed head of the United States Food Administration. The majority of the agency's work was carried out by 750,000 volunteers. The organization's food transactions of over $7 billion kept millions of people from starving.
     
 
Clear The Way, Buy Bonds, Fourth Liberty Loan

Howard Chandler Christy
Department of the Treasury, Fourth Liberty Loan
1918
The cost of supporting the Army overseas was staggering. The spreading pandemic of virulent influenza in 1918 meant that public gatherings, one of the major ways of raising funds, were prohibited. Still, the Fourth Liberty Loan was extremely successful with the largest amount of monies pledged at $6,992,927,100, and with the largest number of subscribers at 22,777,680.
  E-E-E-Yah-Yip, Go Over With United States Marines

Charles Buckles Falls
United States Marine Corps Recruiting
ca. 1917
This United States Marine Corps recruiting poster illustrates the "Battle Cry" of the Marines. Much like the "Rebel Yell" of Civil War days, the call was used to rally and instill a sense of camaraderie among the men. Historical accounts of World War I indicate that it was used by the Marines in battle and also taught during Marine Corps training.
     
 
Fight or Buy Bonds, Third liberty Loan

Howard Chandler Christy
Department of the Treasury, Third Liberty Loan
1917
Upon U.S. entry into World War I, the Treasury Department began issuing a series of Liberty bonds to borrow money for the war effort. The Third Liberty Loan was issued on April 6, 1918, on the first anniversary of America's declaration of war. April 27 was named National Liberty Loan Day and was designated a holiday in almost every state. The girl in the poster, by now known as the "Christy Girl," is the "girl next door" encouraging you to donate money to support the troops.
  Food is Ammunition, Don't Waste It

John E. Sheridan
United States Food Administration
ca. 1918
Federal Food Administrator, Herbert Hoover, told President Woodrow Wilson that "second to military action, food was the dominant factor that will win the war." In 1918, twenty million Americans signed pledges of membership to the Food Administration to conserve food so that our allies in Europe would not go hungry.
     
 
For Our Aviators

Charles Buckles Falls
United States Army Air Service
ca. 1918
On September 3, 1917, the first U.S. Aero Squadron arrived in France. The squadron's primary duties were infantry contact patrols, photo reconnaissance, and artillery surveillance. They also flew "protection" (escort) missions for other reconnaissance craft. The aircraft used by the squadron were the Curtiss AR-1, Spad Xlll pursuit plane, and Salmson 2 observation plane.
  Gee!! I Wish I Were a Man, I'd Join the Navy

Howard Chandler Christy
United States Navy Recruiting Bureau
1918
Artist Howard Chandler Christy was sent to Cuba to cover the Spanish American War. En route, he met Teddy Roosevelt and accompanied the "Rough Riders" in battle. His patriotism inspired his art, and during World War l, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels stated that Christy's poster art contributed to a successful recruiting campaign.
     
 
"Hey Fellows!" Your Money Brings the Book
We Need When We Want It


John E. Sheridan
American Library Association, United War Work Campaign
1918
When the United States entered World War I, the American Library Association became a major participant. The organization created the Library War Service under the direction of Herbert Putnam, the Librarian of Congress. The ALA led the effort to provide books to soldiers and sailors in the armed forces.
  I Want You for the Navy

Howard Chandler Christy
United States Navy Recruiting Bureau
1917
Howard Chandler Christy, born in Ohio in1873, arrived in New York City to study art with William Merritt Chase in1890. An outstanding art student, he received his first commission from the Century magazine in 1895. Success came early for Christy and by 1910 he was earning $1,000 a week. The Navy almost exclusively used Christy art for recruitment.
     
 
Learn and Earn

Charles Buckles Falls
United States Army Ordnance Recruiting Poster Number 1
1919

The logistics function of the Army Ordnance Corps involves provisioning and procuring all goods required to raise and maintain an efficient and effective fighting Army. The Ordnance Corps is also responsible for managing all ammunition, ranging from a pistol bullet to shells and missiles.
  Pro Patria! Join Army for Period of War

H. Devitt Welsh
United States Army Recruiting
1917

This United States Army recruiting poster encouraged young men to enlist by illustrating the great Army tradition of the horse soldier. It also used the inspirational line "Pro Patria," borrowed from the Roman lyrical poet Horace, the phrase meaning "for your country."
     
 
Rivets are Bayonets, Drive them Home!

John E. Sheridan
United States Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corporation
ca. 1918

By the summer of 1918, the Emergency Fleet Corporation, organized to operate merchant ships for the U.S. government, was fast approaching the goal of launching one hundred ships a day. The American worker, using his tools as weapons, is seen standing side by side with the American soldier in the field.
  That Liberty Shall Not Perish From the Earth

Joseph Pennell
United States Treasury Department
1918

One of the most striking posters of the Fourth Liberty Loan was designed by Joseph Pennell. It shows the harbor of New York City in flames and under attack by enemy bombers. Pennell sketched the idea on the train back to Philadelphia after meeting with the Division of Pictorial Publicity. Two million copies of the poster, which invokes the Gettysburg Address, were printed. Today it has an eerie reference to the tragedy of 9/11.
     
 
They Give Their Lives, Do You Lend Your Savings ?

H. Devitt Welsh
United States Treasury Department
ca. 1917

The War Thrift Stamp was sold for 25 cents a stamp. It attached to a Thrift Card that had spaces for 16 stamps and had a face value of four dollars. When the card was full, it was used to purchase a War Savings Stamp worth five dollars that could be redeemed five years later. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Labor endorsed the program.
  This Device on Hat or Helmet Means U.S. MARINES

Charles Buckles Falls
United States Marine Corps Recruiting
ca. 1917

The globe on the U.S. Marine emblem signifies continuing service in any part of the world. The eagle represents the nation of the United States. The anchor dates back to the founding of the Marine Corps in 1775. It acknowledges the naval tradition of the United States Marines and their continual service under the command of the Department of the Navy.
     
 
U. S. Army Signal Corps

H. Devitt Welsh
United States Army Recruiting
ca. 1916
The mission of the Signal Corps is to provide and manage communications. Founded in 1860, one of its first accomplishments was to transform sign language into a semaphore system using red and white flags. Those flags today are the insignia that the Corps wear on their uniform.
  You, Wireless Fans, Help the Navy

Charles Buckles Falls
United States Naval Recruitment
ca. 1918

With the entrance of the United States into World War I, private U.S. radio stations were ordered by the President to either shut down or be taken over by the government. For the duration of the war it became illegal for private U.S. citizens to even possess an operational radio transmitter or receiver, as radio was reserved for the war effort.
     
 
Learn to Make and Test the Big Guns

Charles Buckles Falls
Ordnance Department, United States Army, Washington, D.C.
1919
The recruiting and training of artillery units was crucial to American victory in World War I. For the Saint-Mihiel offensive, General Pershing moved 3,000 artillery pieces 60 miles to the front. They provided a four hour barrage for the attack that began at 5:00 AM on September 12, 1918, that resulted in victory and demonstrated the critical role of artillery in combat.
  For Victory, Buy More Bonds

J. Scott Williams
United States Treasury Department, Fourth Liberty Loan
1918
One of the most dramatic and powerful images of World War I, this poster was created by artist J. Scott Williams. Asked about the creative process for this poster, the artist explained, "I wish to visualize, if possible, in a poster expression, the dynamic energy of the American people and to help a bit to communicate to every American the idea of victory."
     
Now Venereal Diseases

H. Devitt Welsh
United States Department of Health
ca. 1918
Staying healthy and physically fit is essential for serving in the armed services. The government waged a successful campaign against bubonic plague, yellow fever, and tuberculosis among the troops. As venereal disease was also limiting the effectiveness of the armed forces, the military instituted an educational program to combat the disease.