Posters of the Great War - An Exhibition

Introduction | Acknowledgments | Artists and the Posters
Island 1 | Island 2 | Island 3 | Island 4


PosterNobody knows how many posters were generated by The Great War / World War I / “The War to End All Wars”/ "The War to Make the World Safe for Democracy.”  Thousands.  They had a strong effect when issued and retain historical value.   

This exhibition evokes the sentiments and beliefs that inspired and sustained the worst slaughter in history.  It displays 36 posters selected from the Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection at the University ofSouth Carolina, which holds more than 90 posters documenting responses to the War in the belligerent nations  (USA,  Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, France, Austria, Italy).  Among the major poster-artists represented are Lucien Jonas from France and the Americans Howard Foster Christy, Harrison Fisher, James Montgomery Flagg, and Joseph Pennell.  Their subjects include recruiting, war loans, famine relief, patriotism, and straight propaganda (German atrocities in Belgium and Schrecklichkeit).   The poster collection preserves contemporary depictions of doughboys, Tommies, and poilus; Red Cross nurses and Salvation Army lassies; families and industry; trenches, tanks and airplanes.

These posters are part of the comprehensive collection of Great War materials founded in 1997 by Arlyn and Matthew J. Bruccoli at the Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina.  The collection is named for Professor Bruccoli's father, who was wounded in France.  It is an in-progress research archive for the literary, historical, and cultural aspects of World War I.  Its fields of specialization are literature of the American Expeditionary Force, British novels and poetry of the war, the air war, and trench warfare.  The collection includes sheet music, original art, manuscripts, correspondence, photo albums, scrapbooks, and glass slides.

By 2003, the Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection held more than 3,000 items, including some 500 books and documents acquired in 2002 with the Joseph Cohen Collection of World War I Literature.  Great War items from other collections—the Matthew J. and Arlyn Bruccoli Collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Speiser and Easterling-Hallman Collection of Ernest Hemingway, and the Guinn Collection of Military Aviation—are cross-catalogued.

Individual items in the Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection are described in USCAN, the University of South Carolina online catalogue, which may be accessed through  A parallel exhibit,Songs of the Great War, is also available on the web.  For more information contact:  The Curator, Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection, Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208; telephone 803-777-8183.


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