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Fighting talk: America's WWI-era posters

Gallery: From recruitment drives to war relief efforts – a selection of First World War posters archived in the Library of Congress.

THE US DECLARED war on Germany in April 1917 after several American merchant ships were sunk by German forces.

Hundreds of posters were printed and distributed in the US between then and the formal end of war in November 1918.

Recruitment drives for military and medical units including the army, navy, signal corps, and the veterinary corps were advertised, and fundraising efforts for the military through war bonds were promoted.

Posters also urged people to save food and goods which could prove useful to the military, and encouraged people to help the war relief effort for those living in war-torn countries overseas.

Here is a selection from the many posters archived in the US Library of Congress:

Fighting talk: America's WWI-era posters
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  • American Ambulance in Russia

    The Russian caption on this circa-1917 poster reads: "Military loan". (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • American Committee for Relief in the Near East

    A campaign urging donations to support victims of war. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Boys' Working Reserve

    A WWI poster encouraging those too young to enlist to take part in the war's production efforts. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Stenographers!

    The US Capitol is silhouetted in the background of this 1917 call-out for stenographers to join the war effort. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • The Greatest Mother

    A Red Cross poster from 1917 depicting a nurse cradling a wounded soldier. The US Tank Corps's 1917 call for "fighting men" to join up. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Join the Tanks

    The US Tank Corps's 1917 call for "fighting men" to join up. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • A Wonderful Opportunity

    A 1917 call to enlist in the US Navy. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • The $3,000,000,000 punch

    America's Uncle Sam in a coat marked "Liberty Bond" punching the German Kaiser in a 1917 poster. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Enlist

    A New York-produced poster featuring a woman and infant, passengers of the stricken Lusitania vessel, dating from 1915 or 1916. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Forward America!

    The symbolic personification of early America, Columbia, depicted leading an airplane squadron. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)
  • Victory is a Questions of Stamina

    The US Food Administration seeking "fuel for fighters" in 1917. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

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