MGHL Welcomes the Atkin Family Collection of WWI Posters

Modern Graphic History Library is pleased to announce the addition of the Louis and Jodi Atkin Family Collection featuring World War I posters and memorabilia.


1917 American poster by James Montgomery Flagg

The collection includes over 400 recruitment and propaganda posters produced from 1915 – 1918 by the major countries engaged in the war: America, Britain, France, Italy, Russia, Czechoslovakia and Germany.

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1917 British poster by Lloyd Myers

Visitors at Olin Library this past year have already seen a sneak-peak of the collection.  During the first three weeks of the Spring semester, students, faculty, and staff were allowed to vote for their favorite poster to be displayed on the first floor.

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The winning poster of the Olin Display Contest : 1917 U.S. Navy recruiting poster by Howard Chandler Christy

Throughout the upcoming school year, more posters from the collection will be displayed throughout additional floors of the library.  A special dedication for the collection will be held in Spring 2015.

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1917 U.S. War Bonds poster by J.C. Leyendecker

The posters with their vivid colors and dramatic illustrations insist that everyone do their part to support the war effort by buying war bonds while remembering to conserve resources and donate needed supplies.

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1917 U.S. Navy poster by Gordon Grant

Men are strongly urged to join various branches of the military.  Women are encouraged to join the Red Cross while children are urged to join school “garden armies” to grow their own food.

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1918 U.S. Bureau of Education poster by Edward Penfield

The American posters feature artwork by popular artists of the time including Saturday Evening Post cover artist J. C. Leyendecker and Uncle Sam illustrator James Montgomery Flagg. The famous “Christy” and “Fisher” girls created by Howard Chandler Christy and Harrison Fisher can also be spotted doing their part in the war recruitment effort.

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1918 American Red Cross poster by Harrison Fisher

In addition to posters, the collection also includes newspapers, photographs, and military clothing including felt hats, American and German helmets, and a gas mask.

With the 100th anniversary of WorldWar I beginning this summer, this collection will show how illustration was used by governments throughout the world to persuade and educate in times of
turmoil and uncertainty.

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1916 French Comité de Prévoyance et d’Économies poster, artist unknown

The Atkin Family Collection is still being processed and is not yet available for general viewing.  Researchers and faculty who wish to see selections from the collection may contact Modern Graphic History Library to schedule a viewing time.  Scheduling will depend on availability of staff and space.

About the author

Andrea Degener is the Visual Materials Processing Archivist in the department of Special Collections at Washington University Libraries.