Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
June 6, 1996
Library of Congress Publishes CD-ROM of French Posters From World War I
The Library of Congress has just published a compact disk (CD-ROM) containing images of its entire collection of French Posters from World War I. A total of 284 digital images show posters dating from 1914 to 1921, from the start of the war to the period of reconstruction after the signing of the treaty of Versailles. Elena Millie, curator of the poster collection, assisted by Kelly Blythin, completed the introductory text and compiled the annotated checklist for the publication.
During World War I, posters were for the first time used as a primary tool of propaganda, and French World War I posters, from a country with a strong tradition in the arts, set the standard for war poster design. Fifty years earlier, Jules Ch,ret had transformed the commercial poster, or broadside, into an art form that set off a poster craze in France. The flamboyant, colorful images that he produced, mainly for cabaret or other performances, took Paris by storm. Influenced by the creations of Ch,ret, other artists like Steinlen, Willette, and Guillaume began designing posters in a similar vein. They were among the artists who produced masterly posters supporting the French cause in the First World War.
Looking at these posters, the viewer can trace the war's causes and crises in the poignant messages conveyed by each image. The pleas were effective not only in mobilizing citizens to serve but also in mobilizing those on the homefront to produce supplies for the soldiers in the trenches. Voicing ardent messages such as "On les aura" ("We'll get them") or "Sauvons les" ("Let's save them"), French posters awakened citizens to the urgency of the war.
The majority of the posters were produced for the various war drives calling for donations to help win the war. More unusual is a wonderfully fresh series of designs by French schoolchildren calling for the conservation of fuel, cigarettes, bread, and even wine. The conflict over the separation of Alsace and Lorraine is addressed as are social issues such as the epidemic of tuberculosis and venereal disease. Films about the war, exhibits of war art, and special gala evenings were also advertised to gain support for the war.
French Posters from World War I, a CD-ROM, is available for $20 from the Library of Congress Sales Shop or, citing stock number S/N 030-001-00164-4, from the Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; fax (202) 512- 2250. This 4 3/4-inch computer laser optical disk requires a CD-ROM drive and either a 386- or 486-based IBM PC with 4MB application RAM, DOS 3.3 or greater, and Windows 3.1 or better, or a 68020-based Macintosh or later with 2MB application RAM and System 7.0 or better.
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