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Are YOU Doing YOUR Duty To-Day?

Date: 1915
Overall: 537 mm, 0.1 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Poster
Object No: 00018168
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    World War I saw the first extensive use of posters for propaganda purposes. This example uses Britain's greatest naval hero Admiral Lord Nelson as a manipulative tool to appeal to men to join the British Armed Services in service of their country.
    SignificanceWar posters were intended to be ephemeral and never meant to be archival or historical documents. Yet, because of the content of the messages they projected they have become an important resource for today's historians to investigate the belief in the rightness of the cause and the necessity to wage war.
    HistoryMass-produced posters have been used to advertise commercial products and propagandise political and social causes since the invention of the lithographic process at the end of the 18th century. It was during World War I that the recruiting poster became a popular means to encourage men to join up and for employers to release 'un-needed' men from work so that they too could enlist.

    The Parliamentary Recruiting Committee (PRC) was a 30-member body organised by political party organisers, under the supervision of the War Office, with the express aim of raising of troop numbers in Britain's volunteer army. The main modes of appeal were through mass recruiting rallies and through posters and pamphlets that encouraged enlistment. The earliest recruiting posters tended to be blown-up versions of handbills, usually with text in one or two colours, and sometimes simply provided the technical terms of enlistment. They contained no visual images and relied on block-printed slogans to grab attention.

    Within a few weeks of the outbreak of war the designs of posters began to incorporate striking graphic images, including those of Lord Kitchener and Admiral Lord Nelson. Over time the poster campaign became more sophisticated and manipulative. Appeals to duty were replaced or supplemented by three additional elements: appeals to young men's desire for adventure, camaraderie and masculinity; by thoroughly demonizing Germany and Germans; and by social shaming techniques. Guilt was also used in posters that urged women to persuade their men to enlist, by both questioning their men's masculinity and questioning the patriotism of women who hesitated to give up their husbands, fathers and sons to the service of the nation.

    Fifty-four million copies of some 200 different posters were produced and distributed by the PRC over the course of the war. Millions more were produced by other wartime (often private) organisations. The implementation of conscription in 1916 led to a drastic decline in posters urging army recruitment, and an increase in posters calling on home front service - in munitions factories or the Land Army - and for the restriction of food consumption and the buying of war bonds.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Are YOU Doing YOUR Duty To-Day?

    Primary title: ENGLAND EXPECTS 1805 - 1915 ARE YOU DOING YOUR DUTY TO - DAY?

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