American posters depicting women as icons of and workers for the war effort available for viewing through Dec. 1
Elizabethtown College is hosting “Women and the Great War: Posters from the Collection of Pamela Tronsor” in Hess Gallery in Zug Memorial Hall through Dec. 1. This collection of propaganda posters from World War I includes American posters focusing on women as icons of and workers for the war effort as depicted by the leading graphic artists of the time.
In order to sell the war to the American people, the majority of whom had been opposed to intervention in the European conflict, the U.S. Government’s Committee on Public Information created a Division of Pictorial Publicity. In a span of less than two years, approximately 2,500 poster designs and approximately 20 million posters-nearly one for every four citizens-were produced.
These colorful posters, often depicting women, were on display in many public places during the First World War-such as train stations and post offices-as well as on the sides of buildings and in shop windows. In the emergence of modern day advertising, these posters marked the first time that advertising techniques were used for propaganda purposes on such a mass scale. Urging citizens to buy war bonds and war savings stamps, as well as encouraging recruitment, were goals of the displayed posters.
Tronsor explains that “at the time America entered the war in 1917, these posters must have seemed audacious in a culture that had long classified women as second class citizens. The posters in the exhibit represent four important themes or motifs: mythic images of women, women engaged overseas in the war effort, women workers on the home front, and the conservation of food. These posters sought to enlarge women’s views of their responsibilities in the time of war.”
Throughout time, the intensity of the posters’ colors has held due to the mediums on which they were produced-stone lithographs or silk screens-and they make for excellent viewing and learning in the present.
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Gallery admission is at no charge and open to the public. More information is provided by the Department of Fine Arts.
Elizabethtown College, located in historic Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is a private coed institution offering more than four dozen liberal arts, fine and performing arts, science and engineering, business, communications and education degrees. Learn more: http://www.etown.edu/about/