In 1917 the Committee on Public Information was formed in the United States. The agency's main focuses were promoting patriotism and drumming up public support for the ongoing war effort during World War I. One of the ways they accomplished this was through the use of propaganda posters. During the war, the CPI distributed more than 70 million posters and articles of patriotic literature. Each poster featured a particular wartime message, such as recruitment or supporting the war through the purchase of war bonds. Wartime propaganda posters should contain elements that spur the audience into action.
Propaganda materials that related to recruitment made strong, direct appeals to those viewing the poster. The famous "I Want You For U.S. Army" poster with Uncle Sam is an example of this style. Soldiers were not the only ones being recruited, however. During wartime, many posters called on Americans to join the Red Cross or to start working on farms or in factories to aid the war effort.
Wartime posters dealing with food often urged Americans not to waste food or to make sacrifices so that soldiers may eat better; for example one poster encouraged children to eat corn meal and "Save the wheat for our soldiers!"
Posters also pressed Americans to plant "victory gardens." Victory gardens were fruit or vegetable gardens planted at a home or within a community that offered relief during food shortages.
War bonds are savings bonds issued by governments to help finance military operations during war. Posters that promote the purchase of war bonds often include calls to patriotism and social conscience. The language of war bond propaganda was often flowery and deeply patriotic. By purchasing a war bond, Americans were essentially loaning money to the government to help with the war effort. During World War I, war bonds were often called "Liberty Bonds."
Women and the War Effort
When men left to serve on the front line, their positions in the workforce began to be filled by women. Posters encouraged women to take up positions left by soldiers as well as urged them to take up wartime manufacturing jobs, such as assembling aircraft and ammunition. Women were also encouraged to serve their country by becoming nurses to care for the troops.