The collection consists of posters from both World War I and World War II with a few tourist and other miscellaneous posters from the same periods. More than half of the posters are from countries other than the United States. French posters predominate, but there are also World War I and II posters from Belgium, Canada, England, and Italy, plus World War I posters from Germany and World War II posters from Czechoslovakia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, and Yugoslavia. Additionally, the collection contains broadsides, banners, pamphlets, and ephemera.
The U.S. World War I posters promote recruitment, savings stamp and bond drives, patriotism, and conservation. There are also a few anti-war posters in the collection. Artists represented include James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy, Edward Penfield, Frank Brangwyn, Windsor McCay, and Joseph Pennell.
The U.S. World War II posters deal with similar themes. A significant number portray the work of women in the war effort. Prominent artists of these posters are John Steuart Curry, Norman Rockwell, Dean Cornwell, and Thomas Hart Benton.
Holdings: 1479 posters
The collection is available for use in the Special Collections reading room during service hours or by appointment. Appointments are preferred as advance notice may be required to prepare oversized materials. The posters do not circulate.
Catalog records for most of the collection can be viewed under the following headings:
Many of the Word War I posters are duplicates of materials held in the Library of Congress and can be viewed online in the Library of Congress World War I Posters Collection. Similarly, many other posters are held in libraries and can be accessed through the Digital Public Library of America.
A selection of posters is available in the University of Missouri Digital Library.
The origin of the collection is not clear. World War II posters appear to have been acquired as issued by the federal government, 1941-1945. Posters from countries other than the United States may also have been distributed from the same source.
The World War I posters, the travel posters and the other miscellaneous posters were acquired in 1947, but whether by gift or purchase cannot be ascertained at this time.