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War Posters Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: -
Date: 6 Aug 2006

Biographical History

Before the widespread presence of television and radio, and to a lesser extent even after, wartime governments often used posters to broadcast to the civilian population important themes such as civil defense, recruitment, morale-boosting and fund-raising. In many cases notable artists would be engaged to create the illustrations.

World War I and World War II were particularly rich in these cheap and omnipresent pieces of propaganda. According to the Smithsonian Institution's "Produce for Victory: Posters on the American Home Front" :

Addressing every citizen as a combatant in the war of production, wartime posters united the power of art with the power of advertising to sell the idea that the factory and the home were also arenas of war. Poster campaigns aimed not only to increase productivity in factories, but also to enlarge people's views of their responsibilities in a time of total war...
[P]eople would encounter posters in places that other media couldn't reach—schools, factories, offices, store windows, and other places outside the scope of paid advertising. Second, posters had democratic appeal—they could be made by anyone; they could be seen by all. Both medium and message spoke of democracy, which made posters ideal for expressing American war aims: why we fight, what we fight for.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The War Posters Collection consists of more than 250 posters from World War I and World War II. Common themes include recruitment, fund-raising (war chest, savings bonds, chocolate fund), civil defense, and morale-boosting. Organizations represented include the Red Cross; U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps; American Expeditionary Force; various relief committees; and other groups involved directly or indirectly in the war effort.

Of particular interest is a group of 28 World War I posters customized for use in Syracuse and Onondaga County. These items were over-printed with local addresses for recruiting centers and fund-raising organizations, such as the Syracuse and Onondaga County War Chest.

Arrangement of the Collection

Posters are subdivided by the war to which they relate. Within that, items have been assigned identification numbers and are arranged in order by number.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

See also the Spock Collection of War Posters (World War I, World War II, Vietnam).

Subject Headings


Aderente, Vincent, approximately 1880-1941.
Babcock, Richard Fayerweather.
Baker, Ernest Hamlin, 1889-1975.
Barney, Maginel Wright, 1877-1966.
Beall, C. C. (Cecil Calvert), 1892-1967.
Beneker, Gerrit A. (Gerrit Albertus), 1882-1934.
Christy, Howard Chandler, 1873-1952.
Coffin, Haskell, 1878-1941.
Cox, Allyn, 1896-1982.
Cox, Kenyon, 1856-1919.
Daugherty, James, 1889-1974.
Davies, Roland.
Downe, Albro F.
Fisher, Harrison, 1875-1934.
Flagg, James Montgomery, 1877-1960.
Forsythe, Vic, 1885-1962.
Grant, Gordon, 1875-1962.
Harris, Lawrence S.
Illian, George, 1894-1932.
Jacobs, Leonebel.
Kline, Hibberd V. B. (Hibberd Van Buren), 1885-
Leyendecker, J. C. (Joseph Christian), 1874-1951.
Matthews, Harry B.
Paus, Herbert Andrew, 1880-1946.
Pennell, Joseph, 1857-1926.
Raemaekers, Louis, 1869-1956.
Reuterdahl, Henry, 1871-1925.
Riesenberg, Sidney H.
Roeg, Herman.
Ruttan, Charles E.
Shafer, L. A. (Leon Alaric), 1866-1940.
Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969.
Smith, Daniel V.
Spear, Gil.
St. John, James Allen, 1872-1957.
Strothmann, F. (Frederick), 1872-
Tornrose, Axel Townsend.
Treidler, Adolph, b. 1886.
Verrees, J. Paul, b. 1889.
Whitehead, Walter, 1874-1956.
Williams, J. Scott (John Scott), 1877-1975.
Woodburn, Thomas.

Corporate Bodies

American Red Cross -- Posters.
United States. -- Army -- Posters.
United States. -- Army. -- Air Service -- Posters.
United States. -- Army. -- American Expeditionary Forces -- Posters.
United States. -- Marine Corps -- Posters.
United States. -- Navy -- Posters.


Liberty bonds -- Posters.
Recruiting and enlistment -- Posters.
War posters, American.
War posters, British.
War posters, Canadian.
World War, 1914-1918 -- Posters.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Posters.


Onondaga County (N.Y.) -- History.
Syracuse (N.Y.) -- History.

Genres and Forms


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

War Posters Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Original collection, unspecified.

Onondaga County posters were purchased with funds from the Syracuse Library Associates, 2010, and from the Adah C. Blackman Fund.

Four additional items added, 2017, source unknown.


Dulles, Foster Rhea. The American Red Cross: A History. New York: Harper (1950).

Flagg, James Montgomery. James Montgomery Flagg. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications (1974).

Judd, Denis. Posters of World War Two. New York: St. Martin's Press (1973)

National Archives. Powers of Persuasion. Online.

World War I Posters. United States; Great Britain; Canada (1917, 1921)

Smithsonian Institution. Produce for Victory. Online.

Table of Contents

World War I

World War I, Onondaga County

World War II