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Charles Buckles Falls (1874-1959). Books Wanted for Our Men in Camp and "Over There": Take Your Gifts to the State Library. N.p., ca. 1917. 42 x 28 inches.
Within weeks after the United States entered the Great War in 1917, the Society of Illustrators met in New York City to find a way that artists might assist the war effort. Under the leadership of Charles Dana Gibson, its members launched what became the Division of Pictorial Publicity, part of the Committee on Public Information, charged with creating posters that would encourage patriotism and sacrifice on the home front. More than three hundred of America's foremost cartoonists, designers, illustrators, and painters worked for the division. From its organization in April 1917 to the war's end in November 1918, the division submitted at least seven hundred poster designs to various agencies.
The Library of Virginia owns several fine examples of World War I posters. Many reminded those at home of measures they could take to help the war effort. One poster, Food is Ammunition, warned civilians not to waste valuable food supplies. Others stressed the importance of the war in the fight for liberty for future generations. Wartime posters also advertised programs designed to raise morale, as well as funds. Local libraries and the American Library Association, for example, coordinated a campaign to collect reading materials for military libraries and for distribution to individual soldiers and sailors. The program's artwork (Books Wanted for Our Men in Camp and "Over There" by Charles Buckles Falls) was easily adapted to any community. The Virginia State Library simply printed over the original instruction to "take your gifts to the public library," changing it to read "the State Library."