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From Litho Stone to Pentium Chip: Interpreting Gender in U.S. World War I Posters

1

Anonymous
Untitled (Our Wounded need care), ca. 1917-1920
lithograph mounted on board
26 3/4 x 19 7/8 in. (sheet); 27 1/4 x 20 3/8 in. (board)
95.3.30

 

Text by Tomoko Shimizu '01
Although this poster does not have a picture, there is a strong message.   This poster is meant to attract women to become nurses to help the wounded soldiers.  Before the war, nursing was thought of as a "risky profession" and because nurses were paid to deal with the male body, the profession was considered sexual by many.  The Red Cross needed to break this stereotype; they needed women to be nurses.  To break this negative image and to make women want to become nurses, they made this poster and others like it. 

By not putting any images on the poster, the Red Cross appealed to women as professionals and gave the message that the Red Cross would treat women professionally.  The poster gave the message to women "not to worry about the sexual stigma about the nurse."   The word "serve" has many meanings when it was used for women; however, in this poster, the word indicated the meaning of "serving" the country as a citizen of the nation.  As a result, this poster made a good impact on middle class young women as well as upper class young women to participate the war as nurses.  It gave them the idea that the occupation of the nurse was no longer what it meant before.  

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