During the World War I era (1914-18), leading newspapers took advantage of a new printing process that dramatically altered their ability to reproduce images. Rotogravure printing, which produced richly detailed, high quality illustrations—even on inexpensive newsprint paper—was used to create vivid new pictorial sections. Publishers that could afford to invest in the new technology saw sharp increases both in readership and advertising revenue. The images in this collection track American sentiment about the war in Europe, week by week, before and after the United States became involved. Events of the war are detailed alongside society news and advertisements touting products of the day, creating a pictorial record of both the war effort and life at home. The collection includes an illustrated history of World War I selected from newspaper rotogravure sections that graphically documents the people, places, and events important to the war.
This collection, provided by the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, makes available online approximately 1,900 posters created between 1914 and 1920. Most relate directly to the war, but some German posters date from the post-war period and illustrate events such as the rise of Bolshevism and Communism, the 1919 General Assembly election and various plebiscites. The majority of the posters were printed in the United States. Posters from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia are included as well. The posters range in style from anonymous broadsides (predominantly text) to graphically vibrant works by well-known designers. The Library acquired these posters through gift, purchase, and exchange or transfer from other government institutions, and continues to add to the collection.