print this page

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

1

Anonymous
Untitled (Lest I perish), ca. 1917
lithograph mounted on board
30 x  19 7/8 in. (sheet); 30 1/2 x 20 3/8 in. (board)
95.3.37

Return to image index

Fight the Enemy Without Ever Picking Up a Weapon by Erin Yates '01
The ultimate symbol of American freedom, the Statue of Liberty stares the viewer down with furrowed brow, flushed cheeks, and an accusing finger.  She makes it your responsibility to preserve the very rights for which she stands.  The Statue of Liberty is masculinized so as to present a demanding presence.  She tries to evoke guilt that if you cannot participate in the actual battle of war, you can at least purchase war bonds to do your part.  Betrand Russell notes that "the greatest difficulty was the purely psychological one of resisting mass suggestion," for "persuading the American public became a wartime industry...words, posters, and films waged a constant battle for the hearts and minds of the American citizenry just as surely as military weapons engaged the enemy." (1, 2) 

The poster successfully appeals to the masses simply by presenting the image of the Statue of Liberty.  At a time when one third of the population was comprised of immigrants, the Statue of Liberty was a particularly poignant figure because it was the first image of America to which many immigrants were exposed. (3)  The figure on the war bonds poster replicates the poster of Uncle Sam standing with pointed finger demanding "I want you for U.S. Army, enlist now," and caters to a diverse population of various ethnic backgrounds and classes.  Thus, the poster effectively entreats all Americans to fight the war at home by purchasing war bonds and upholding the freedom and liberty that America prides itself upon. 

1.  Aaron Delwiche, "Propaganda:  Wartime Propaganda, World War I, The Drift Towards War," 
[http://carmen.artsci.washington.edu/propaganda/war1.htm], April 1998. 
2.  "Powers of Persuasion," [http://www.nara.gov/exhall/powers/powers.html], April 1998. 
3.  Delwiche

Return to student text index

Return to image index

Return to GS103 poster index

Return to GS103 project main page