World War I Posters, 1914 – 1918

State Street Mall entrance lobby, Memorial Library
Reproductions courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society
Propaganda posters were meant to capture the attention of passersby in public places. Prominent artists of the era created the posters, most often as encouragement to buy war bonds. Within a week of declaring war on Germany, the United States government established the Committee of Public Information. On 22 April 1917, the committee’s director, George Creel, invited Society of Illustrators President Charles Dana Gibson to create the Division of Pictorial Publicity. In the 20 months of its existence, the Division of Pictorial Publicity created 700 poster designs; none of the artists were paid for their work.