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Exhibit explores war propaganda on both sides of the Atlantic

Image from one of the posters in the new Milner Library exhibit on propaganda.

Image from one of the posters in the new Milner Library exhibit on propaganda.

Loose lips sink ships—That was one of the rallying cries of the United States government during World War I and II in posters and other media. An exhibit at Illinois State University’s Milner Library will explore propaganda during the wars, on the U.S. and German sides.

“Propaganda on All Fronts: United States and International Posters 1917–1945” will be on display on the Library’s second floor until June 5.

“These items illustrate how governments across the globe sought to influence public opinion to those on the home front and frontlines,” said exhibit curator Angela Bonnell of Milner. “These iconic visual artifacts share the common goal of communicating with, and influencing, a mass audience in public, civic spaces.”

The exhibit features more than 40 posters and related material drawn from three historic collections in Milner Library’s Government Documents World War Poster Collection:

Answering the Call—A collection of over 100 WWI United States posters from federal agencies and national organizations after the United States entered the war in 1917;

German Propaganda: The 1936 Berlin Olympics —A 72-page German-created Nazi propaganda piece, American Illustrated News, targeted for international spectators and press of the XIth Olympiad;

Art of Persuasion —More than 500 United States and international WWII posters created by government agencies, organizations, and companies from 1941–1945.

The three collections make up more than 600 posters that are available for use by faculty members in their coursework, and for student research.

Bonnell noted that Illinois State (Normal) University played an integral role during the war. “Names of 728 ISNU affiliates, photographs, biographical sketches, and audio recordings of letters written during the war accompany the WWI posters,” she said.

Similarly, one of Illinois State University’s Hall of Fame athletes, Tidye Pickett, is highlighted in the exhibit. Pickett holds the distinction of being the first African American woman in the world to compete in the Olympics, one of 18 African Americans representing the United States in the Berlin Games.

For more information on the exhibit, contact Bonnell at abonne@ilstu.edu.

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