In April 1917, soon after the United States’ entry into the First World War, President Woodrow Wilson created the Committee on Public Information (CPI). George Creel headed the CPI which existed to unify public opinion in favor of the war and help sell bonds financing its cost.
The CPI issued movie reels, newspaper and magazine articles, pamphlets, exhibits, and short speeches, but found its most effective national media approach to be posters. The country’s top advertising illustrators created some 700 posters, which used simple, emotional imagery and messages to sell the war effort. The CPI distributed the posters throughout the states – the equivalent today of a series of memes gone viral – and the intended cultural impact succeeded.
Meanwhile, Utah and its citizens answered the nation’s call to support the war effort in multiple ways. Thousands of young men enlisted in the military, Utahns purchased millions of dollars of Liberty Bonds, and the production of vital metals and agricultural goods was increased to meet the growing demands of a nation at war.
The Works Progress Administration gathered this collection of original World War I posters in Utah in the 1930s. Through them, we can experience how an “advertising” campaign was used to stir feelings of patriotism, and engage Utahns in the larger national effort.
- Press release (downloadable & editable) for your school or institution to distribute. For a press image click on the picture above and it will open in a new tab at a higher resolution.
- Utah Division of State History website
- Utah Veteran’s Memorials
- Educational Materials
2018-2019 Traveling Schedule
Grantsville Junior High, Aug 30 – Oct 1
Summit County Library, Park City, Oct 1 – Nov 5
Grand County Library, Moab, Nov 6 – Dec 4
Uintah County Heritage Museum, Vernal, Jan 4 – Feb 5, 2019
Old Dome Meeting Hall, Riverton, Feb 6 – Mar 6
Orem Public Library, Mar 6 – Apr 3
Frontier Homestead State Park Museum, Cedar City, Apr 3 – May 13