"The War of Ideas": Wartime Propaganda Posters

Miles of Hell to Tokyo poster

What is the nature of propaganda? How does it differ from marketing or other communications? What messages are important to convey? How are they shared – and by whom?

Wars are extraordinary exercises in propaganda - communications, often exaggerated, meant to advance a particular political point of view. In a democracy, a government must gain the support of its citizens to support a war. One way in which they do this is through visual messaging such as posters.

As you look at the posters, imagine how the words and images – as old-fashioned as they sometimes sound – could be translated to a modern light. Think of how the artists and designers behind these posters used visual cues to motivate and inspire their audience, whatever the time period.

The posters in this exhibit span a century of American wars, from the Civil War to World War II, but many of the messages they bear are timeless.