"Defend Your Country, Enlist Now in the United States Army" Poster

"Defend Your Country, Enlist Now in the United States Army" Poster

Usage conditions apply
Physical Description
Four-color print on paper.
Specific History
A proliferation of colorful recruiting posters emerged in World War II, with the army targeting particular occupational specialties like infantry, Women's Army Corps, Signal Corps, Army Nurse Corps, and the U.S. Army Air Forces. As in World War I, Congress found it necessary to instate the draft, as posters and other incentives were not enough to entice enlistees.
The use of the Uncle Sam image by James Montgomery Flagg created a strong and appealing poster soliciting recruits for the army. This poster was later used on highway billboards and in edited form was the first poster on an express truck for Railway Express.
General History
The Division of Military History and Diplomacy collection has been collecting recruiting posters for more than fifty years. Recruiting as an activity of the military is important to the understanding of who serves in uniform, during both warand peac, and the visual materials used to market military service.
Posters during World War II were designed to instill in people a positive outlook, a sense of patriotism, and confidence. They linked the war in trenches with the war at home. From a practical point, they were used to encourage all Americans to help with the war effort. The posters called on every man, woman, and child to endure the personal sacrifice and domestic adjustments to further the national agenda. They encouraged rationing, conservation, and sacrifice. In addition, the posters were used for recruitment, productivity, and motivation as well as for financing the war effort. The stark, colorful graphic designs elicited strong emotions. The posters played to the fears, frustrations, and faith in freedoms that lingered in people's minds during the war.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Other Terms
poster; Army
date made
associated date
1941 - 1945
Associated Place
United States
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 38 in x 25 in; 96.52 cm x 63.5 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
U.S. Department of Defense. Department of the Navy.
Uncle Sam
World War II
The Great Depression and World War II
See more items in
Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, General
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object