Topic: World War I propaganda poster?
July 18, 2019 / By Helen Question:
For my history class, I have to do a presentation on propaganda posters that were promoted during WWI. Can someone tell me and give me details of what this poster is saying and promoting please?
Duana | 6 days ago
Let's break it down into bite-size portions so you understand what's going on:
First and foremost, the poster is informing the public that the US Navy needed recruits.
It shows an able-bodied American of suitable enlistment age reading a newspaper.
What dominated US and World news coverage in that era? The First World War.
The sailor is shown appealing to the citizen's patriotism to answer his country's call to arms.
And the caption tells viewers that instead of just reading about others making history (and reading about it in the daily papers) they should personally participate in making history by enlisting the US Navy.
In simplest terms, that's what's going on in that old American recruiting poster.
Number one, it's not propaganda. Propaganda is something that is false and spread for political or military reasons. This is a promotional poster seeking for volunteers to join the Us Navy in World War 1.
The picture is meant to be evocative: in this case, it is urging a civilian in a suit, casually reading about the war in a newspaper- another man in uniform, perhaps his alter-ego, urges him to join the Navy and be a part of the action rather than reading about it. His Navy uniform indicates he is a sailor, and his arm is raised to the personification of Liberty holding an American Flag. The poster, through this figure, is evoking the man's sense of duty and patriotism.
The figure of Liberty as a female, goddess-like, is reminiscent of Eugene Delacroix's famous "Leading the People", which may have influenced this artist as it did the sculptors of the Statue of Liberty in N.Y. harbor.
Some background on the poster: It was painted by James Montgomery Flagg and printed by The H.C. Miner Litho. Co. N.Y. in 1917.
Some background on the painting, including a high-resolution tiff image (46 mb):
The painting is famous, and prints are sold through Amazon. I added an un-cropped copy of the poster from the Library of Congress. Interestingly, the recruiting station specified is near Madison Square in Manhattan, not far from the famous Flatiron building- it is now a Subway sandwich shop.
This poster, one of the most famous of that war, is simply telling the viewer that young gentlemen should beware being harassed by naval personnel on shore leave and perhaps contracting venereal diseases from them.
It's pretty basic; it says you should get off your butt and enlist. It just has a very dramatic way of telling you to do so. *make history, sonny, america needs you*