World War One Visual Culture, U.S.A. 1917-1919


By Doug Boilesen 2022

On April 6, 1917, the United States Congress voted to declare war on Germany joining the Allied Powers fighting against the Central Powers, (a.k.a. the Quadruple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria) in what was being called the “Great War.”

The World War had started nearly three years earlier on July 28, 1914 and after its declaration of war it would take some additional time for the United States to build up its forces and deploy to the battlefields of Western Europe. Additionally, the United States wanted to be in control of their own troops and operate as independent units and as a result "the first significant US involvement was the Meuse–Argonne offensive in late September 1918." (Stevenson, David, "1914–1918: The History of the First World War," Penguin, p. 403 (Wikipedia - Ref 187).

The following are some visual culture paper artifacts which reflect popular culture beliefs and practices (particularly consumerism with respective advertisements) during the time period from when the United States was officially at war until the end of the war on November 11, 1918.

Any of the following items will enlarge, if selected.

Note: Photoplay Magazine was the leading Hollywood fan magazine of the 1920s and 1930s.


Take a KODAK with you. Photoplay Magazine, October 1917

Subterranean Cinema 90 Feet Under Shell Torn Verdon, Photoplay Magazine, October 1917

Movie promotion for "Fall of the Romanoffs with Iliodor," Photoplay Magazine, October 1917 revealing "the dawn of the Revolution in which was born the Free Russia of today."


Keep your Kodak Busy. Photoplay Magazine, November 1917

Pictures from Home. Photoplay Magazine, December 1917

A poem by a Canadian soldier who is reading a Photoplay Magazine which "helps him forget for awhile that he is somewhere in France," Photoplay Magazine, January 1918


The Picture From Home. Photoplay Magazine, March 1918

Life Savers in the trench and battle field, Photoplay Magazine, March 1918

The Day of His Going. Photoplay Magazine, April 1918


The Kodak Letter. Photoplay Magazine, May 1918

Buy a Smileage Book and give it to your soldier in the training camp. Photoplay Magazine, July 1918

Our boys in France crave sweets. Photoplay Magazine, July 1918


Life magazine, March 14, 1918

Life magazine, March 23, 1918

Life magazine, December 19, 1918


Cosmopolitan magazine, February 1918

McClure's Magazine, July 1918

Life magazine, September 23, 1918


Life magazine, January 10, 1918

McClure's Magazine, July 1918

Send tobacco to Our Boys in France, McClure's Magazine, July 1918


Photoplay ad of German pamphlet addressed to German people to only buy German cameras.

Page 2 of ad translating pamphlet - "There are no German Kodaks." Photoplay Magazine, August 1918

The Talking Machine World, July 15, 1918


“Caruso is singing in the trenches of France tonight... The Theatre Magazine, November 1918


Columbia Grafonola, The Ladies' Home Journal for January 1919



“Caruso is singing in the trenches of France tonight…Thousands of miles from home in a land torn by battle, our boys yet listen to the spiritual voice of Art. Through the Victrola, the mightiest arts in all the world sing to them the hymn of victory, cheer them with their wit and laughter, comfort and inspire them.” Victrola ad, The Theatre Magazine, November 1918 (PM-1944)


Columbia Grafonola, January 1919 - Visualizing with Songs Across the Sea (PM-0845)