The Winds and Words of War
World War I Posters and Prints from the San Antonio Public Library Collection
A rare collection of posters from the World War I era created in 1916 and 1917
Commissioned by the U.S. Committee on Public Information, more than 300 of America’s best-known illustrators, cartoonists, designers, and fine artists created some 700 posters in an effort to build patriotism, raise funds for war bonds, encourage enlistment, and increase volunteerism during World War I. The Winds and Words of War is a rich collection of World War I–era posters created in 1916 and 1917 to motivate the country to abandon an isolationist position and connect with European allies against German aggression and tyranny. These images became an equalizing force in American culture, causing people from every walk of life to rally to the cause.
The San Antonio Public Library's permanent collection holds 450 of these posters, bequeathed in 1940 by Harry Hertzberg, former Texas state senator and avid memorabilia collector. The posters were created by a group of early twentieth-century American artists, among them Charles Dana Gibson, Howard Chandler Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, Guy Lipscombe, Charles Buckle Falls, Haskell Coffin, and Norman Rockwell. Using heroic images and patriotic slogans, the lithographs aimed to encourage support for troops by depicting military and civilian effort and sacrifice.
The works, many of which appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, are both a testament to the people who volunteered their service and creativity to the war effort and an excellent example of the period’s advertising strategies and graphic design.
“These posters hung in hospitals, auditoriums, churches, and synagogues across the nation, inspiring Americans across class and religious boundaries throughout the War to End All Wars.”
— San Antonio Current
“Predating television and commercial radio, these posters were a big way the government communicated what they wanted the population to know.”
— Texas Public Radio