Posters of the Great War: Visions of a World Conflict

In 1914, a murderous act of rebellion by a Bosnian student thrust an ill prepared world into a conflict that would last for four years and cost millions of lives.

The posters of this exhibit tell the story of that war, delineating the attempts of belligerent nations to rally their people against the enemy. The people were urged to enlist, to buy war bonds, to undergo the hardships of rationing and to direct all of their energies toward supplying the men in the trenches.

At a time when large numbers of the people were illiterate, the simplicity of posters made them an ideal means of communication. Pictures accompanied by a minimum of words were the norm. Because there was no room for explaining the subtleties of either side's position, the war's issues were presented as either/or situations and the slogans were generally didactic at the very least.

The Blair-Murrah exhibit of World War I posters chronicles the power of this colorful medium. Striking examples from England, the U.S. and France record the symbols and slogans that shaped the world for years to come. Artists were given free rein to create their eye-catching, persuasive visions. Today, as then, the visual impact of these remarkable posters stirs the soul and gives the viewer an intimate glimpse at the world at war.