In 2014—the 100th anniversary of World War I—the Louis and Jodi Atkin Family made a very special donation to the WU Libraries: a collection of more than 400 recruitment and propaganda posters produced from 1914-1918, along with an array of wartime memorabilia. The collection was dedicated in a formal ceremony in Olin Library on April 15, 2015. An exhibit of 31 posters is now on display on levels 1, 2, and 3 of Olin.
The posters plug for military recruitment, bond buying, and the donation of supplies. They’re arresting individually, as ads for the war, but as a group, they have a cumulative beauty that’s undeniably powerful—a spirit that transcends the conflict and resonates across generations.
It’s Louis Atkin’s hope that viewers will take time to think about the events that inspired the artwork. “One hundred years ago continues to be palpable in these posters,” he says. “They speak to the massing of talents gathered for a cause where so many paid the ultimate price.”
Two popular American artists of the era, Saturday Evening Post cover designer J. C. Leyendecker and Uncle Sam illustrator James Montgomery Flagg, are represented in the exhibit, which was curated by Skye Lacerte of the Modern Graphic History Library. The posters will be on display in Olin through October 2015.