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EIU Teaching with Primary Sources

The Art of War: WWI and WWII Posters 

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Introduction | Primary Sources and Analysis Tools 
Library of Congress Resources | Primary Source Set

Choose a link below to access printable PDF versions of these materials including additional information, color images and citations.
Art of War: WWI and WWII Posters Resource Booklet 
Primary Source Set

Primary Sources and Analysis Tools

This page contains information about incorporating primary sources into learning activities and links to primary source analysis tools. Examples of primary sources relative to our topic are included in the printable version of the resource booklet and primary source set above. You are also encouraged to visit the Library of Congress Resources page above to locate collections, exhibits and more sources of digitized primary sources. Of course, you should always go to and conduct your own search for primary sources that you can use in your classroom! If you need assistance feel free to contact the EIUTPS staff or use the Library of Congress "Ask A Librarian" links.

Posters and Broadsides

Why teach with posters and broadsides?
Propaganda is a tool used as a weapon freely during war. Famous images and slogans that originated on posters of past wars are still recognized today.  Some of the same techniques that were used to invoke emotion are used today in advertisements, something students will be able to understand.  Posters attract our attention and often immediately appeal to some type of emotional reaction.

When we look at posters as historical documents, we must consider what the poster implies.  In less than a single sentence, and on occasion with no words at all, posters are highly selective in the way that they depict the world. The way that a group, race, class or gender is portrayed in a poster can be very biased or skewed to fit the needs of the creator or to raise the desired reaction from viewers. 

Connecting to our topic of The Art of War...
These posters were used to encourage recruitment, recycling, and patriotic duties during times of war. When you initially view a poster, your eyes typically go to the image.  Do these images accurately convey the intended message of the poster? Text offers details to support the cause of the creator of the poster. Some posters have few words while others provide detailed statistics or explanations. In the posters for WWI and WWII, the images are vivid to attract and engage readers to investigate and learn more about the wartime in which these individuals lived.

Analysis Sheets: Poster Analysis Sheet

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