Representing War: propaganda, posters, pamphlets, publicity, music, artwork and memorials

This theme is concerned with the representation of warfare in all its forms, with a primary focus on posters, artwork and music. Many posters which have not been assigned to other themes appear here. There are posters from World War I issued in Canada, the United States, Belgium, France and Germany. Posters from World War II are also included; twelve of them made up a 2008 calendar issued by McMaster University Library; those selected were issued by Canada, the United States, Britain and Australia. Posters concern recruitment (there is a case study on British recruiting posters in World War I), the purchase of victory bonds and war savings certificates, home management and other topics. There is also a series of posters concerning the occupation of Germany at the end of World War I. Two case studies of Hamilton, Ontario during the World Wars contain posters and other materials included in the theme The Hamilton Connection.

Also included in this theme is artwork from the First World War. It includes depictions of landscapes, ships, guns, tanks, bridges, bomb damage. “The Wounded Soldier” despite its title is a delightful water-colour. Additional artwork from World War I can be found under the theme The Soldier Artist and Poet. Also collected in this theme is a decorative grouping of souvenir commemorations from World War I printed by S. Burgess.

“Boys from Canada”: The Songs of the First World War

'We've laid down the hammer and picked up the gun, Put down the saw for the sword, Britons world over are fighting the Hun, See where their blood is outpoured; Close up the ledger and put down the pen, Hark to the trumpet call! Britain is fighting for freedom men, and Britain needs us all.' from 'Canada, Fall In!'

Related Images

Louvain Posters: German-Occupied Belgium during the First World War

On 2 August 1914, Germany issued an ultimatum to the Belgian government, requiring passage for their army through Belgium in order to bypass French border fortifications. Two days later, when the Belgian government denied the request as a violation of its neutrality, German troops invaded and occupied the country, precipitating the carnage of the First World War. Situated between Liège and Brussels, the city of Louvain, with a population 42,000 people, fell to the German First Army on 19 August 1914.

Related Images

British First World War Recruiting Posters

Mass-produced posters have been used to advertise commercial products and propagandize political and social causes since the invention of the lithographic process at the end of the eighteenth century. The poster acquired some artistic respectability by the late nineteenth century due to the design work of artists like Alphonse Mucha and Toulouse Lautrec. However, it was during the First World War that the recruiting poster became ubiquitous within the British urban landscape.

Related Images

The Vimy Pilgrimage

In the early years, pilgrims tended to be bereaved family members looking for the graves of their loved ones. This was a consequence of the British decision, made during the war, to not repatriate the dead but rather bury them in military cemeteries near where they fell. The Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC – renamed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 1960) was established in 1917 to mark and maintain the graves of all the members of the British forces overseas, to build memorials to those with no known grave, and to keep records and registers.

Related Images

The Spanish Civil War: Foreign Intervention and the American Reaction

In the 1930s well-intentioned politicians and pacifist groups adopted a seemingly pragmatic approach to conflict resolution, voiced moderation and diplomacy, and espoused the gospel of internationalism through the League of Nations. During the same period fascist expansionism made its mark with Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in 1931, Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, Italy’s conquest of Ethiopia in 1935 and the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). In response to Italy’s aggression, the U.S.

Related Images


Subscribe to RSS - Representing War: propaganda, posters, pamphlets, publicity, music, artwork and memorials