"Men Wanted For the Army" Vintage WWI Recruitment Poster

Presented is a vintage U.S. Army recruitment poster, dating to World War I. The poster depicts an Army officer conferring with a soldier. They stand next to an artillery battery, manned by two soldiers. Their fort looks over a cliff, with water and clouds completing the background. The text "Men Wanted for the Army" is printed in bold red letters at the top of the poster. The bottom margin of the poster includes a cartouche where the name of the recruiting station can be filled in.

The color lithograph was illustrated by Michael P. Whelan. The poster is one in a series of several Army recruitment posters by Whelan.

Until the advent of the Cold War in the 1950s, America traditionally maintained a relatively small standing army and navy.  Whenever war broke out, it was necessary for the country to mobilize for the fight—to recruit (and sometimes draft) troops, to train them, and to produce the arms, equipment, and supplies needed to fight. When Congress and President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany in April of 1917, this mobilization took on extreme urgency.  The government’s overarching goal was to persuade a traditionally isolationist American populace to invest and support the European war effort. They needed support financially, through the purchase of war bonds and rationing, and emotionally, through volunteer service (men for the armed forces, women for the nurse corps), displays of patriotism, and shared sacrifice.  

New government organizations, especially the Committee on Public Information, were tasked with putting out a singular patriotic message, achieved primarily through posters and printed pamphlets. The war ushered in the biggest advertising campaign to date, critical to the wartime communication needs of every combatant: from raising money, recruiting soldiers and boosting volunteer efforts, to spurring production and provoking outrage at enemy atrocities. The bold and colorful graphic designs, created by some of the nation’s leading artists, elicited strong emotions. The posters played to the fears, frustrations, and faith in freedoms that lingered in people's minds during the war. The United States alone produced about 2,500 poster designs and approximately 20 million posters, nearly 1 for every 4 citizens, in little more than 2 years.


Poster is signed in the lithographic stone at the bottom left. Color has faded slightly but is still very attractive. Light  crease at centerfold, from past storage and display. Poster is presented in a custom-built black frame. Framed by previous owner. Framed Dimensions: 41" H x 31" W x 3/4" D.

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