World War I Posters: The Graphic Art of Propaganda

"I Want You . . ." World War I recruitment poster; James Montgomery Flagg, artist.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
"I Want You . . ." World War I recruitment poster; James Montgomery Flagg, artist.
Editor's Pick
1914
1918

Whether they were urging citizens to enlist in the Army, buy war savings stamps, support the Red Cross or join the war effort for “adventure and action,” the countless recruitment and propaganda posters produced during World War I — in every country engaged in the conflict — were marvels of graphic design. Some were shocking; many were beautiful; virtually all were created with one aim in mind: to get the viewer to stop, read — and act.

Here, on the 100th anniversary of the June 28, 1914, assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria — commonly cited as the action that precipitated WWI, the spark that lit the fuse — LIFE.com presents American posters that are not only aesthetically striking, but also capture the breezy nationalism (often slipping into jingoism) of the era. That the English, French (see below), Germans, Italians and virtually every other nation with soldiers in the fight created their own brand of similar propaganda only reinforces the old adage: in war, the first casualty is the truth.
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Translation: "We will get them." Charles Toché, artist; c. 1916.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Translation: "We will get them." Charles Toché, artist; c. 1916.

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