The Poster Campaign
The Division of Pictorial Publicity created 700 designs for posters on behalf of multiple government departments. Some posters spurred enlistments in the armed forces (two million volunteered; nearly three million more were drafted). Others fanned fear or hatred of a racially stereotyped “Hun.” Some promoted the purchase of war bonds, which raised $24 billion. Others elicited sympathy for our Allies—especially victims of the war.
Take a Closer Look
Note how advertisers rendered the enemy with a dark complexion and ape-like features. And note as well that his victims were white women.
At a time when scientific racism had not yet been debunked, dark skin and simian features were thought to be indicators of uncivilized, threatening people. Posters incorporating this imagery were meant to spur white Americans to action by playing on their association of non-whites with danger or threats to civilization and white womanhood.