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WWI Posters - Rallying the Homefront

Thursday, 26 October 2017 19:55

On Display through January 28, 2018

This special exhibit of American propaganda posters commemorates the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into WWI. The U.S. government decided to use a popular artistic medium, the poster, to incite fear in its citizens of an unknown enemy on another continent. Some of the illustrations have become the most iconic American images ever made, such as James Montgomery Flagg’s stern image of Uncle Sam pointing to the viewer above the words, “I Want You for U.S. Army.” Be prepared for an emotionally powerful and artistically fascinating experience. Read More


On July 28, 1914, World War I officially began when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. In Europe and beyond, country after country was drawn into the war by a web of alliances. It took three years, but on April 2, 1917, the U.S. entered the fray when Congress declared war on Germany. American citizens were not keen on entering the conflict, especially those with German ancestry who had no desire to support England and France. The U.S. government had to find a way to convince the American people that they must support the war effort without reservation.

Posters—which were so well designed and illustrated that people collected and displayed them in fine art galleries—possessed both visual appeal and ease of reproduction. They could be pasted on the sides of buildings, put in the windows of homes, tacked up in workplaces, and resized to appear above cable car windows and in magazines. And they could easily be reprinted in a variety of languages. The purpose of the American WWI poster was to get the reader to stop, look, and react.

To merge this popular form of advertising with key messages about the war, the U.S. government’s public information committee formed a Division of Pictorial Publicity in 1917. The chairman, George Creel, asked Charles Dana Gibson, one of the most famous American illustrators of the period, to be his partner in the effort. Gibson, who was president of the Society of Illustrators, reached out to the country’s best illustrators and encouraged them to volunteer their creativity to the war effort. These gifted artists produced remarkable works of graphic art which captured the emotional state of humanity.

Propaganda poster artwork took on many forms; in one instance the viewer could expect a tugging at the heart strings with images of rosy-cheeked mothers and children, optimistic soldiers in the prime of youth eager to fight for home and country, and the virginal, feminine ideals of liberty, justice, and America. Other posters were considered atrocity propaganda and depicted hard, guttural images portraying the enemy’s capacity for pure evil, violence and murder. One could not help but be moved to any number of emotions, from pity and fear, to pride and righteous indignation.

Despite the passage of 100 years—as well as many wars and disillusionment about them—these posters retain their power to make you stare. Good and evil are clearly delineated. The suffering is hard to ignore. With over fifty posters in the exhibit, be prepared to experience the reasons why this conflict in our history was called “the war to end all wars” and see for yourself how these posters essentially helped win that war.

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Coshocton Visitors Bureau & the Annin Flagmakers Showroom
432 North Whitewoman Street, Coshocton, OH  43812
(Located in Historic Roscoe Village)



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Coshocton Visitors Bureau Mission Statement
The mission of the Coshocton Visitors Bureau is to increase overnight stays in one of our lodging facilities through the promotion of tourism experiences, overnight packages, and attractions to encourage tourists to visit, explore, and plan return visits to Coshocton County.

The Coshocton County Visitor Bureau is a proud supporter of the following organizations:

 Ohio Heartland Wine and Cheese Trail Ohio Travel Association Coshocton Chamber of Commerce Coshocton is Blooming Coshocton Port Authority Johnson Humrickhouse MuseumCoshocton Airport Amphiteater Ohio Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus Coshocton Friends of the Park Clary Gardens Adventures in Northeast Ohio Ohio Has It Pomerene Center of the Arts Ohio Appalachian Country Coshocton Footlight Players Roscoe Village Association   

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