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Press Release: Pennsylvania State Archives to debut World War I poster collection

March 9, 2017

Filed under Changing Exhibits, Exhibits, Pennsylvania State Archives

FOR VICTORY, BUY MORE BONDS 1918 Karle Litho., Co., Rochester, N.Y. John Williams (1877-1976) portrays Lady Liberty draped in the Stars and Stripes in this poster for the Fourth Liberty Loan drive. A flag wearing Lady Liberty or Columbia figure appear often in patriotic WWI posters. Williams, an English-born muralist and illustrator, lived for many years in Gettysburg, Adams County. Pennsylvania State Archives, MG-272 #76

Harrisburg, PA – A new display from the Pennsylvania State Archives featuring its historic collection of World War I-era posters will open next month at The State Museum of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania At War: World War I Posters from the Pennsylvania State Archives will commemorate the anniversary of the U.S. involvement in World War I by exhibiting 23 vivid posters that represent three major themes of the Great War: the recruitment of members of the armed forces, the conservation food and other material essential to the war effort and the financing of the war through Liberty Loan drives.

Offering a fascinating glimpse at how valued American symbols and ideals were used to mobilize the country for war in Europe, this display will open Sunday, April 2 at 2:00 PM. Richard Saylor, an archivist at The Pennsylvania State Archives and curator of the exhibit, will host tours during the opening of the display located on the first floor of the museum near the Pennsylvania At War: The Saga of the USS Pennsylvania exhibit. Refreshments will be served.

Pennsylvania At War: World War I Posters from the Pennsylvania State Archives will be on exhibit through November 12, 2017.

This display features a sampling of the nearly 500 World War I posters housed within the permanent collections of the Pennsylvania State Archives, including several that were produced by printing companies based in Philadelphia such as the Ketterlinus Lithographic Manufacturing Co.

Pennsylvania At War will highlight I WANT YOU/FOR U.S. ARMY, a poster printed in 1917 by the Leslie-Judge Co. in New York. Initially debuted as a magazine cover, this poster would become the most famous recruiting poster from World War I.

With America’s entry into World War I in April 1917, millions of colorful posters began to appear in public places all over the United States. Designed by some of the most renowned commercial artists of the time, the posters stressed the necessity of volunteerism for both recruitment in the military and support on the home front. The messages were intended to stimulate a patriotic spirit among citizens and facilitate the transition of the country’s position from neutrality and isolationism to military partnership with the Allied forces in Europe. Posters were an inexpensive and effective means of communicating patriotic messages to the masses.

The Pennsylvania State Archives, in cooperation with the State Library of Pennsylvania, has digitized a collection of World War I posters from its Manuscript Group 200 – Poster Collection and made them available online at https://phmc.info/wwi-posters.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania, adjacent to the State Capitol in Harrisburg, is one of 24 historic sites and museums administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as part of the Pennsylvania Trails of History. With exhibits examining the dawn of geologic time, the Native American experience, the colonial and revolutionary era, a pivotal Civil War battleground, and the commonwealth’s vast industrial age, The State Museum demonstrates that Pennsylvania’s story is America’s story.

MEDIA CONTACT: Howard Pollman, 717-705-8639