Representing War: propaganda, posters, pamphlets, publicity, music, artwork and memorials

This theme is concerned with the representation of warfare in all its forms, with a primary focus on posters, artwork and music. Many posters which have not been assigned to other themes appear here. There are posters from World War I issued in Canada, the United States, Belgium, France and Germany. Posters from World War II are also included; twelve of them made up a 2008 calendar issued by McMaster University Library; those selected were issued by Canada, the United States, Britain and Australia. Posters concern recruitment (there is a case study on British recruiting posters in World War I), the purchase of victory bonds and war savings certificates, home management and other topics. There is also a series of posters concerning the occupation of Germany at the end of World War I. Two case studies of Hamilton, Ontario during the World Wars contain posters and other materials included in the theme The Hamilton Connection.

Also included in this theme is artwork from the First World War. It includes depictions of landscapes, ships, guns, tanks, bridges, bomb damage. “The Wounded Soldier” despite its title is a delightful water-colour. Additional artwork from World War I can be found under the theme The Soldier Artist and Poet. Also collected in this theme is a decorative grouping of souvenir commemorations from World War I printed by S. Burgess.

Case Study: “Boys from Canada”: The Songs of the First World War

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    Cook, Alta-Lind, Sheet music, 1915
Music is an emotional medium, which preserves more than mere circumstance. The music in this case study gives us a window into how ordinary Canadians experienced the First World War.

Case Study: Louvain Posters: German-Occupied Belgium during the First World War

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    Colins, Leon, Poster, 12 March 1915
This important collection of propaganda posters provides an official version of everyday life in German-occupied Belgium during the First World War. Related materials provide a very different picture.

Case Study: British First World War Recruiting Posters

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    Publicity Department, Central Recruiting Depot, Whitehall, Poster, [1914-1918]
Although the technology to enable the relatively inexpensive mass production of high quality images had been in existence for over a century, the First World War saw the first extensive use of posters for propaganda purposes.

Case Study: The Vimy Pilgrimage

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    Filipowski, R., Poster, [1939-1945]
Pilgrimages to the sites of First World War battles by veterans and the bereaved began immediately after the war’s conclusion and continued throughout the 1920s and 1930s. McMaster’s small collection, consisting of a telegram, programmes, menus, newspapers, post cards, and a commemorative medal, relates to the inaugural pilgrimage to the Vimy Ridge Memorial in 1936.

Case Study: The Spanish Civil War: Foreign Intervention and the American Reaction

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    Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista, Poster, 1936
In a bitter conflict that foreshadowed the worst excesses of World War II, Europe found itself divided. The Spanish Civil War also divided the United States although most popular sentiment, as this archival collection suggests, was on the side of the doomed Republican cause.

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