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

1

Anonymous
Untitled (The Bow of promise), ca. 1918
offset lithograph mounted on board
37 3/4 x 24 7/8 in. (sheet); 38 5/8 x 25 3/4 in. (board)
95.3.42

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The Bow of Promise by Tanya Ames '01 and Kristin Rocco '01
Patriotic in nature, the poster shown here was supposed to stir-up pro-American feelings and mobilize citizens to support the war movement.  This particular poster was oriented towards gaining the support of United States citizens through monetary funds.  It seems to be a straightforward plea to certain Americans to contribute to the war by purchasing war savings stamps. 

The rainbow depicted in this poster shows the need for American support to help end the war which is symbolized by the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  On the right side of the poster, people from specific socio-economic statuses are depicted.  These particular images were chosen to show that help was needed, but only from businessmen and well-off individuals who could afford to help.  At this time in history there was a feeling that only men could afford to help.  The women and her child who are standing off in the distance are omitted from this group.  These adults were the ones who had to pay for the savings stamps, while others such as women and children would only benefit from the actions.  The success and wellbeing of America and its people were at stake. 

The background of this poster is meaningful as well.  The whole United States is portrayed, from forest and blue skies, to the clouds surrounding the Capitol building off in the distance, to a smog-covered city.  These images show the United States as a whole, united, with the rainbow connecting all aspects of the country.  The text from this poster is also very important.  The "flood" refers to the war itself, while the rainbow is a visual aid that shows that with the efforts of those capable individuals, the war would come to an end.  The text implies that without the purchase of war savings stamps, it will be hard for the "Rainbow of Victory" to exist. 

Not only did the "Bow of Promise" poster grab people's attention by making them feel as if their contribution to "end the war for all time" to "endow the world with lasting peace" by simply purchasing savings stamps, it portrays an image of hope for the future and a promise that their small contribution will help.  However, it is important to realize who was targeted by this poster.  Men and wealthy people were the contributors, and the women and children were submissive recipients of the others' contributions. 
 

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