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Treasures of the Rare Books Room: World War I posters

The Rare Books Room is home to some striking examples of original World War I posters. In a time before the widespread use of radio and film, they were a vitally important way to communicate the messages of the countries involved in the conflict. Many were illustrated by the famous artists of the day. The library posters have been backed with linen and encapsulated for preservation and are in wonderful condition. A selection of them is viewed regularly by Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design students each semester as part of a field trip.

American posters were often brightly colored and appealed for money (in the form of liberty bonds) and recruits. The Uncle Sam poster featured here is one of the most famous images ever created by the artist James Montgomery Flagg who used himself as a model for Uncle Sam.

Some posters played on fear and prejudice to make their point.

European posters often featured the realities of war, including the depiction of casualties.

If you are interested in viewing these historic posters, please call the Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071 to arrange a visit.

Patricia DeFrain, Rare Books Librarian @ MPL Central


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