The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
One hundred years ago at 11 am on the 11th of November 1918 a ceasefire was declared ending what is now known as World War I. The peace treaty that officially ended the war, The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. The war began in 1914 after an assassination and alliances pitted the major European players against each other. The United States formally entered the conflict on April 6, 1917 but American soldiers were not part of any significant combat until the spring of 1918. All aspects of life in the United States was geared to the war effort. The poster was the single most important means of mass communication and was a major tool used to garner support and boost morale. It was used by all sides of the conflict. The Toledo Lucas County Public Library is lucky to have a collection of these posters most of which have been in its collection since they were created.
The style and format of the posters vary, some were created by well-known artists of the time while others were strictly informative. Many were designed to stir emotions to get the viewer to supply money for the effort, conserve resources or to volunteer to fight. The process used to create the poster, three stone color lithography allowed the printing of large numbers at a relatively low cost.
The first poster illustrated here is titled “Knowledge Wins” showing a soldier leaving the trenches of Europe and his weapons behind. He's looking across the Atlantic towards an American city and the bridge that will take him there. The bridge is paved with library books, which is symbolic of the knowledge found there that often leads to success! This poster was created for the American Library Association’s War Service Committee in 1918 after designs by Dan Smith (1865-1934) a noted illustrator of the time.
Look forward to future posts highlighting other World War I posters in our collection.