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“I Want You” Poster
Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

“I Want You” Poster

Catalog #: 1979.0600.06    Accession #: 1979.06
Credit: Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

Maker

James Montgomery Flagg (Artist)

James Montgomery Flagg was born in New York in 1877. As a child he began to draw and sold his first drawing at the age of 12. Two years later he was contributing to Life Magazine and at fifteen was on the staff of the The Judge. Flagg studied at the Arts Students League in New York. When he was twenty, he spent a year working in London before moving on to France. Flagg was one of America's leading illustrators. His illustrations were in Photoplay, McClure's Magazine, Collier's Weekly, Ladies' Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, Saturday Evening Post and Harper's Weekly. During the First World War Flagg designed 46 posters for the government. His most famous work is the Uncle Sam poster with the caption "I Want You for the U.S. Army". An adapted version of this poster was also used during the Second World War. James Montgomery Flagg died in 1960.

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 38" H x 25" W

Physical Description

Four color print on paper.

Specific History

The Armed Forces History collections have been collecting recruiting posters for more than 50 years. Recruiting as an activity of the military is important to the understanding of who serves in uniform, during both war time and peace time and the visual materials used to market military service. The collection contains examples of early Civil War broadsides, World War I posters, including the original artwork for Uncle Sam as drawn by Montgomery Flagg; and World War II posters, which show the recruiting of men and women for all services, and auxiliary organizations. The collection contains primarily Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II recruiting posters for the Army, Navy and some Marine. More modern day recruiting materials are also contained in the collections, and cover a broad range of Army recruiting slogans.

General History

Posters during World War II were designed to instill in the people a positive outlook, a sense of patriotism and confidence. They linked the war in trenches with the war at home. From a practical point, they were used to encourage all Americans to help with the war effort. The posters called upon every man, woman, and child to endure the personal sacrifice and domestic adjustments to further the national agenda. They encouraged rationing, conservation and sacrifice. In addition, the posters were used for recruitment, productivity, and motivation as well as for financing the war effort. The stark, colorful graphic designs elicited strong emotions. The posters played to the fears, frustrations, and faith in freedoms that lingered in people's minds during the war.


Keywords

Country: United States
War: World War II
Service: Army
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