Fight or Buy Bonds, 1917. Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952).
Printed by the Forbes Company,
Boston, MA. National Heritage Museum, Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, gift of H. Brian Holland, A96/089/08. Photo by Joe Ofria.
Sow the Seeds of Victory!, 1918.
James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1860), United States. National Heritage Museum, Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, gift of Andrew S. Dibner. 2000/37/05
Throughout America’s participation in World War I--from April 1917 through November 1918--colorful and compelling posters exhorted Americans to fight, conserve food, and buy bonds. At the beginning of the war, volunteer artists formed the Division of Pictorial Publicity of the Committee on Public Information. The Division created a host of advertisements, including 700 poster designs. Millions of their posters hung in public spaces and workplaces--citizens could not escape their pressing and persuasive messages.
The Museum is featuring a selection of these World War I posters from our collection in the new exhibition, “Fight, Save, Buy, Wake Up!.” The twenty posters gathered in this exhibition in our corridor space offer a glimpse of a time when Americans, facing uncertain outcomes, responded to their government’s urgent requests to help the war effort.
Posters helped recruit soldiers. They also drummed up dollars. To help finance the war, the U. S. Treasury sold savings bonds, called Liberty Loans. An army of volunteers promoted these bonds door-to-door and at rallies. Posters and other advertising for the bonds emphasized the importance of civilian participation in the fundraising effort. Four Liberty Loans and one Victory Loan, organized after the fighting concluded, helped the government raise billions of needed dollars.
Along with money, Americans conserved and produced food to support the war. According to Herbert Hoover, then head of the United States Food Administration, food was “second only to military action,” in winning the war. Hoover crafted policies and organized the logistics that allowed America to feed citizens, soldiers and the Allies by controlling the supply, distribution and conservation of food. To help achieve these aims, food agencies enlisted eye-catching posters urging Americans to conserve, preserve, and produce.