A Call to Arms: Recruitment posters of the First and Second World War

The two World Wars of the twentieth century saw an unprecedented degree of death and destruction which consumed the lives of millions of service men and women from around the world. While conscription became an option for many nations (particularly in the later stages of either war), recruitment through volunteerism was needed to feed the conflicts whilst maintaining order and morale at home where conscription was and is, often seen as a last resort. Recruitment posters appealed to a number of a citizen’s values, beliefs, and emotions to raise the enlistment numbers needed to maintain relevancy in both World Wars. This exhibition explores the common themes and motives found in recruitment posters that helped drive young men and women to enlist into military groups throughout the First and Second World War. While the majority of these posters originate from Britain, similar posters would have existed in the other countries participating in the First and/or Second World War.                             

Poster was produced in Britain between August 1914 and March 1916. This poster attempted to persuade women to shame their husbands and boyfriends into enlisting. What would the 'Young Woman' have felt if her 'Best Boy' was one of the many that would not return from the war?
This poster was created in Britain in the early stages of the First World War (November 1914). The text in red appeals to one's loyalty and sense of duty to their country while the blue text hints at the sense of optimism felt at the beginning of the war that the conflict would be resolved quickly.
This poster was produced in Britain in early 1915. The imagery and text was used to provoke an emotional response and appeal to one's sense of duty to their family. The scene also implies that in the future, the men of that era would be held accountable for what they did or did not do during the Great War
This poster was produced in Britain in 1915. Like the 'Young Women of London' Poster, the target of this recruiting poster is women. The goal was to persuade women to encourage men to join the military. Such campaigns were a huge success and even led to public shaming of men in civilian clothes.
This poster comes from Britain and was produced in 1915. The text comes from Lord Kitchener's Guildhall speech of July 1915. The simple design of the poster targeted men in an attempt to fill the ranks with volunteers at a time when conscription was becoming a possibility.
This simple design poster from Britain was created in 1915. The use of an officer's cap seems to imply the ability for advancement in the army or the need for officers.
This Poster created in 1915 comes from Britain. The scene depicting a soldier in front of the Union Jack targeted men while attempting to trigger a patriotic response in its audience. The quote at the bottom "We Must Have More Men" hints at the desperate situation on the front-lines at this time and the knowledge of the manpower that would be needed to break the stalemate of trench warfare.
This poster for the U.S. Navy was created in 1917 and features the iconic Uncle Sam character. This not-so-subtle poster is very direct and straight forward in its message rather than relying on an emotional response.
This poster created in 1941 was issued in Britain during the Second World War. The poster is aimed at women in an attempt to persuade them to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service; the women's branch of the British Army during the Second World War. the poster is simplistic in design and evokes a patriotic response in the viewer.
This poster from Britain was created and circulated in 1944. The poster was targeted towards personnel already in the Royal Army Medical Corps urging the viewer to transfer to the parachute units. The image of parachutes coming down from the sky promoted a sense of adventure and importance to what the R.A.M.C parachute units did
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