World War I Posters That Reveal The Roots Of Modern Propaganda

Published December 26, 2016
Updated July 10, 2019

These World War 1 propaganda posters courtesy of the U.S. government provide a fascinating look at the America of a century ago in the midst of the Great War.

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World War I Posters That Reveal The Roots Of Modern Propaganda
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Contemporary pundits and politicians referred to World War I as "the war to end all wars." And they had good reason to: History had never seen anything close to the devastation that this conflict brought.

Approximately 17 million soldiers and civilians died between 1914 and 1918, while artillery shrapnel, machine guns, and the like wounded yet another 20 million who were then left with amputations and life-wrenching disabilities.

Many Americans balked at entering such a war, and who could blame them. Furthermore, some Americans of German ancestry took Germany's side in the conflict and weren't eager to fight against their homeland.

Facing such obstacles, the U.S. government's first task was convincing Americans to support the war. Luckily, the U.S. was leading the way in the burgeoning art of advertising.

This advertising know-how quickly became instrumental in creating wartime propaganda that would shape both American mentalities about Europe, and about how Americans' own ethnic backgrounds fit into a larger, unified American cultural identity.

With that in mind, it's not too difficult to imagine how the pioneering World War 1 propaganda posters above would have made countless Americans willing to dive headlong into a conflict the likes of which the world had never seen.

Fascinated by these World War 1 propaganda posters? Check out these World War II posters warning about the dangers of STDs, before checking out these Nazi propaganda posters that seduced ordinary people into hatred.

All That's Interesting
All That's Interesting is a Brooklyn-based digital publisher that seeks out stories that illuminate the past, present, and future.