The scale of the First World War is almost incomprehensible. When Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, the dominoes of allegiance began to fall, and soon the worlds largest nations were forced into involvement. More than 70 million military personnel were globally mobilized. By the end, almost 38 million civilians and soldiers would die.
The pace of global involvement and the mounting number of casualties forced governments to sway public opinion and encourage enlistment. The government propaganda machines began to churn out advertisements. These posters appealed to adventure, patriotism, and honor, and if those failed to sway their target, then shame was the goal.
The poster “Adventure and action, Enlist in the field artillery, U.S. Army” from 1919 shows a line of soldiers on galloping horses at sunset. This, surely to entice those bored young men who sought travel and adventure.
“It’s up to you–Protect the nation’s honor, enlist now” depicts a stern Uncle Sam, and a sleeping young woman draped in American flags. Uncle Sam points directly at the viewer, daring them to turn their back on the country. Similarly, the famous British poster of Lord Kitchener pointing out, challenges the viewer to confront the war.
One of the most interesting examples is the 1915 poster from the Department of Recruiting for Ireland that declares “Can you any longer resist the call?” In the scene, a farmer holding a plow has a vision of St. Patrick gesturing toward the ruins of a cathedral.
Historic and vintage prints on Photistoric.
19??. Print by Schneck. “It’s up to you–Protect the nation’s honor, enlist now.”
1917. Print by James Montgomery Flagg. “I want you for U.S. Army : nearest recruiting station.”
1918. Print by Montreal Litho. Co., Ltd. “We go next! Irish Canadian Rangers.”
1917. Print by American Lithograph Co. “Lend your money to your government Buy a United States government bond, second Liberty Loan of 1917, U.S. Treasury will pay you interest every six months.”
1917. Print by Hegman Print Company. “Uphold our honor – fight for us Join Army-Navy-Marines.”
1917. Print by Guenther. “Don’t wait for the draft–Volunteer.”
1914-1918. Print by American Lithographic Co. “Our boys need sox – knit your bit American Red Cross.”
1915. Print by Parliamentary Recruiting Committee. “Join at once. Fight for the dear old flag.”
1914. Print by Hill, Siffken & Co. “Another call “More men and still more until the enemy is crushed” Lord Kitchener.”
1919. Print by Harry S Mueller. “Adventure and action Enlist in the field artillery, U.S. Army.”
1917. Print by August William Hutaf. “Treat ’em rough – Join the tanks United States Tank Corps.”
1914. Print by Alfred Leete. “Britons: Lord Kitchener Wants You. Join Your Country’s Army! God save the King.”
1917. Print by James Montgomery Flagg. “Wake up America! Civilization calls every man, woman and child!”
1915. Print by Department of Recruiting for Ireland. “Can you any longer resist the call?”
1917. Print by Paul R Boomhower. “Pull together men – the Navy needs us.”
1918. Print by James Montgomery Flagg. “Be a U.S. Marine!”
1915. Print by The Publicity Arts, London. “The Publicity Arts, London.”