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World War I and II

Special Collections’ holdings of over a thousand posters document war and anti-war efforts in the United States, France, and Germany during World Wars I and II.  More than half the collections are from countries other than the United States, mainly from France and other Allied nations.  Artists represented include James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy, Edward Penfield, Frank Brangwyn, Windsor McCay, and Joseph Pennell.  In addition to posters, Special Collections additionally holds bulletins, circulars, general letters, and specialized publications from the Council of National Defense as well as other broadsides, banners, pamphlets, and ephemera.

Scope

The collection consists of posters from both World War I and World War II with a few tourist and other miscellaneous posters from the same periods. More than half of the posters are from countries other than the United States. French posters predominate, but there are also World War I and II posters from Belgium, Canada, England, and Italy, plus World War I posters from Germany and World War II posters from Czechoslovakia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, and Yugoslavia. Additionally, the collection contains broadsides, banners, pamphlets, and ephemera.

The U.S. World War I posters promote recruitment, savings stamp and bond drives, patriotism, and conservation. There are also a few anti-war posters in the collection. Artists represented include James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy, Edward Penfield, Frank Brangwyn, Windsor McCay, and Joseph Pennell.

The U.S. World War II posters deal with similar themes. A significant number portray the work of women in the war effort. Prominent artists of these posters are John Steuart Curry, Norman Rockwell, Dean Cornwell, and Thomas Hart Benton.

How to Use the Collection

With a few exceptions, the collections can be accessed and requested through the library catalog. Finding aids for individual collections are linked on this website. Materials are available for use in the Special Collections Reading Room (room 401) during regular hours. Materials do not circulate. 

Photocopying is not permitted due to the size and fragility of the posters. Some World War I posters have been digitized by the Library of Congress and they are available at Library of Congress: World War I Posters. Photography can be arranged, subject to copyright restrictions; most are in the the public domain.

Finding Aids for World War I and World War II

Council of National Defense Collection

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The Council of National Defense was created in 1916 to coordinate the U.S. war effort during World War I. Members consisted of the Secretary of War,…

Poster Collection

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Scope and Contents The collection consists of posters from both World War I and World War II with a few tourist and other miscellaneous posters from…

Selected Items

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