The Library of Congress World War I Posters collection holds nearly 2,000 posters from between 1914-1920, including one of the famous pieces of American propaganda—the “I Want You Poster.” They come from a variety of places and perspectives, with most from the United States, but others coming from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia. During World I, posters were one of, if not the, most influential manner of disseminating information about the war, as well as what civilians could be doing to help (including buying war bonds, rationing, or even enlisting).

Beyond this collection, the Library of Congress website is an open-access resource available for students and teachers to browse. It boasts a wide selection of documents, many of which are free to use. These documents include photographs, books, films, web archives, legislation and more, from a range of subjects and time periods. The Library of Congress also offers some lesson plans making use of primary sources they host, a blog describing teaching methods, and other resources to enhance both the student and teacher experience. These resources, combined with its easy to use platform, make it, as well as this collection, great resources and guides for use in the classroom.

This collection is useful in a variety of ways—to study history, to study art and graphic design, and even to study pop culture. With over 1,000 posters and pieces of art, students can focus on how the art and messaging evolved over the course of the war, as well as how those same things reflect the changing sentiments and conflicts that came out of World War I. This collection may be used to both teach a broad history of World War I as well as the differing perspectives and messages that can come from different sides in a war.

Reviewed by Carolyn Mason, George Mason University
How to Cite This Source
Carolyn Mason, World War I Posters in World History Commons,