Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

World War I Poster Collection, 1917-1919

Historical Note:

World War I began on July 28, 1914 as the result of ongoing political tension between Austria-Hungary and Serbia and the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The conflict grew to include the world's major economic and military powers and was fought between the Allies (the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Italy, and Japan) and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria). The United States joined the conflict in 1917 in support of the Allies. The war was fought across Europe and the Middle East and concluded on November 11, 1918 when an armistice was signed with Germany, the only remaining Central Power combatant. Officially, a state of warfare persisted until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. The war resulted in the deaths of 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians with total casualties estimated at 37 million. The conflict also reshaped the European political, social, and economic landscape and defined the global political climate leading to World War II.

American participation in World War I required an enormous output of economic, military, and industrial resources. The U.S. government relied heavily on the American public to supply military personnel, labor, raw materials, industrial goods, and funds to the war effort. The U.S. government and numerous charitable organizations launched a series of campaigns promoting austerity measures, purchase of war bonds and stamps, enlistment in the armed forces, and donations of money and goods. Radio, film, and print media--especially posters--were used to deliver these messages to America's civilian population. The United States expended approximately $17 billion (not adjusted for inflation) in the war effort.

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