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World War Poster collection

Identifier: Mss036

Scope and Content Note

The posters are from World Wars I and II and the German election of 1932. War posters are from U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Latin America, and Scandinavia. The collection comprises over 6,000 items, consisting largely of posters but containing a few related materials that are not of poster size. Also, a few items have been included that are outside the scope of the collection but are closely related by time or other circumstance.

The collection contains posters from government, commercial, and charitable organizations. It is multi-national in scope and covers veterans' benefits, war bonds and loans, military recruitment and morale, civil defense, industrial production, freedom and loyalty campaigns, international welfare organizations, prices and rationing, transportation, health and safety, labor organizations, films and theatre, food production, sports and leisure, recruiting of women in military and non-combatant organizations, special events, anti-war movements, and other topics. The visual, political and social content of these posters demonstrate "…that in time of national emergency the artist can perform a service as valuable in its way as that of any other worker in defense." Artists such as James Montgomery Flagg, James H. Daugherty, Ben Shahn, Gil Spear, Otto Fischer and many others are represented in the collection.


  • circa 1914-1945


Language of Materials

English, German, Italian, French, and others

Restrictions on Access

The collection is open and available for use by researchers in the Anderse Library Reading Room.

Restrictions on Use

The posters were published by government agencies, charitable organizations, and commercial interests. Materials published by the U.S. Government Printing Office are in the public domain and, as such, not subject to copyright restriction. Copyright for other materials falls under different guidelines. Please consult with the Archivist.


204.25 Cubic Feet


Posters are from World Wars I and II and the German election of 1932. War posters are from U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Latin America, and Scandinavia. Subjects include recruiting, war bond sales, food conservation, civil defense and many other topics.


The collection is organized in four major sections.
  1. World War I
  2. German Election, 1932
  3. World War II
  4. Additional Materials

Physical Location

High Bay

Other Finding Aid

An unpublished finding aid with detailed contents is available. Please contact the Upper Midwest Literary Archives for details.


The first group of posters in the collection were acquired with the assistance of Mrs. Charles Pillsbury who donated them to the University Libraries. For further acquisitions the provenance is uncertain.

Alternate Form Available

These posters have been digitized for a joint project with the Minneapolis Public Library that was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Web site for the project, "A Summons to Comradeship" is located at:
World War Poster collection
Archives staff
Description rules
Language of description

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Upper Midwest Literary Archives Collecting Area