World War I posters represent some of the finest examples of graphically designed war propaganda. Thousands were produced around the world, especially between 1914 and 1918. Contemporary magazine and book illustrators, portrait artists and muralists volunteered their talents to design some of the most memorable poster art.
Color lithography was used to achieve the dramatic imagery you see here. Carefully chosen words and powerful graphic design combine in these wartime posters to deliver a range of persuasive messages for the Great War. That delicate balance between image and word in each WWI poster begs, pleads, scares and shames the intended audience to enlist, volunteer, donate, beware and/or sacrifice for the war effort.
The WWI posters on display were selected from nearly 3,000 WWI posters generously donated in 1919 by Edward Michael to the Grosvenor Library, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library’s predecessor.
A local lawyer and realtor, Edward Michael was born in the 1850’s and died in 1951 at the age of 101. During those years, Mr. Michael contributed to the development of the University at Buffalo and Buffalo General Hospital and, thankfully, to the poster collection of the Grosvenor Library. He knew Millard Fillmore, played cards with Grover Cleveland and witnessed multiple wars in his lifetime.
Although he collected posters and literature from other wars, Michael’s World War I Poster Collection is by far the largest grouping and represents the broadest array of countries with posters from France, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Russia and others. Many of his international posters were amassed during Mr. Michael’s 1919 overseas trip.
He later saw to it that this cherished collection became a special collection with proper storage in the Library.