This is a World War I poster that I came across that I absolutely love. This poster for the United War Work Campaign shows a man in military uniform pouring a cup of tea for a young soldier seated with a rifle across his lap and helmet at his feet. The “boy” is quite handsome, and he is looking admiringly at the other man. I’m sure that cup of coffee/tea from the YMCA tasted very good after being in combat.
On September 9, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson wrote to Raymond Fosdick, coordinator of the War Department’s Commission on Training Camp Activities. The end of the war was in sight, and it was estimated that the demobilization of nearly four million U.S. troops would require at least two years and a staggering sum for programs to maintain morale. Interestingly, the poster above is dated November 11-18, 1918. The war ended on November 11th, though I cannot find any reference to this poster being made to mark the end of the war. It seems to be a coincidence. The end was more than in sight when these dates occurred.
Wilson requested that aid organizations pool their resources on a massive single campaign to raise funds for soldier-morale programs “in order that the spirit of the country in this matter may be expressed without distinction of race or religious opinion in support of what is in reality a common service.” Seven organizations—the YMCA, YWCA, American Library Association, War Camp Community Service, National Catholic War Council (Knights of Columbus), Jewish Welfare Board, and Salvation Army—set out to raise $170 million during a one-week fundraising drive in November 1918. With a nearly $1 million operating budget, a National Publicity Committee was formed and chaired by Bruce Barton, a magazine editor who was an official with the YMCA. All media would be employed: print, outdoor advertising, leaflets, stickers, lapel pins, radio spots, motion-picture shorts.
The resulting United War Work Campaign was a resounding success, raising more than $203 million for soldier-aid programs. It was hailed in the press at the time as the largest fundraising event in history.
Here is another poster from the same campaign but this one features General Pershing:
The caption reads: Cabled from France August 21st, 1918, “A sense of obligation for the varied and useful service rendered to the army in France by the Y.M.C.A. prompts me to join in the appeal for its further financial support. I have opportunity to observe its operations, measure the quality of its personnel and mark its beneficial influence upon our troops, and I wish unreservedly to commend its work for the Army.” Pershing.