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COLLECTION Identifier: HUY 185

World War I Liberty bonds and loans poster collection

Posters created by the United States Committee on Public Information Division of Pictorial Publicity were a major tool used primarily by the government for the widespread dissemination of information during World War I. The collection consists of 46 prints of 23 unique posters of varying sizes, dating from 1917 to 1919, which encourage citizens to buy and invest in Liberty loans.

Dates

  • 1917-1919

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Extent

1 cubic feet

43 posters (23 folders, 1 pamphlet binder)

The collection consists of 46 prints of 23 unique World War I posters, created by the United States Committee on Public Information Division of Pictorial Publicity; they vary in size, and date from 1917 to 1919. The posters, which are colorfully illustrated, utilize patriotic images, symbolism, and slogans, to encourage citizens to buy and invest in Liberty bonds and loans. Several posters invoke an image of the villainous “Hun,” in reference to Central Power German soldiers. The poster illustrators include some of the most well-known artists of the time, such as Henry Raleigh, Walter H. Everett, and Howard Chandler Christy, creator of the famed “Christy Girl.”

Historical note on World War I posters

Posters were a major tool used primarily by the government for the widespread dissemination of information during World War I. Nations on both sides of the conflict distributed posters widely to increase support, encourage action, and boost morale. The United States government’s Committee on Public Information formed a Division of Pictorial Publicity in 1917, which was responsible for creating the posters. Despite its fairly late entry into the war, the United States produced more war posters than any other country. The posters were so popular and successful because they were both visually appealing, as well as easy to produce and disseminate. They were posted on the sides of buildings, hung in the windows of homes, and reproduced in magazines.
Historical note on Liberty bonds A Liberty bond, or Liberty loan, was a United States war bond that was sold to support the Allied cause in World War I. Thanks in part to the war poster effort, subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty to many Americans. The Act of Congress that authorized the Liberty Bonds is still used today as the authority under which all U.S. Treasury bonds are issued; for instance, Liberty bonds were issued following the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Historical note on the United States Committee on Public Information The Committee on Public Information, also known as the CPI or the Creel Committee, was an independent agency of the United States government created to bolster public support of America’s participation in World War I. President Woodrow Wilson established the committee by executive order on April 13, 1917. The organization had over twenty bureaus and divisions, with commissioner’s offices in nine foreign countries, and used newspapers, posters, radio, telegraph, and movies to broadcast its message.

Arrangement

Posters were arranged in chronological order by the archivist.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The original provenance of this collection is unknown to the archivist.

Related Materials

The Harvard University Archives holds other collections that contain World War I posters, including the Papers of Robert Woods Bliss and Mildred Barnes Bliss, ca. 1860-1969 (inclusive), 1900-1967 (bulk) (HUGFP 76.86).

Inventory update

This document last updated 2018 February 22.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in August 2017 by Olivia Mandica-Hart. Processing involved a collection survey, physical re-housing, and the creation of this finding aid. This finding aid was created by Olivia Mandica-Hart in October 2017. Poster titles were generated in consultation with the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC). Poster artists are noted at the folder level when available.
Link to catalog
Title
World War I Liberty bonds and loans poster collection, 1917-1919 : an inventory
Status
completed
Author
Harvard University Archives
Date
August 24, 2017
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English
EAD ID
hua15017

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

Contact:
Pusey Library
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2461