U.S. Government Posters from the University of Iowa Libraries

This month in our Partnership Showcase we are highlighting our newest partner, the University of Iowa Libraries Government Publications Department. This content partnership provides free online access to their digitized collection of U.S Government posters. Through the partnership, permanent public access and preservation of the poster collection are ensured.

For decades Federal agencies have produced posters to visually communicate with a variety of audiences and for a variety of purposes. Posters have been used to:

  • Instruct
  • Encourage civic engagement
  • Convey the initiatives and priorities of an administration
  • Advertise services and programs
  • Promote awareness
  • Commemorate events

Digitization of the U.S. Government Posters Collection started in the fall of 2008 and now contains nearly 1,500 posters which the University of Iowa received through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The inspiration for creating this collection stemmed from wanting to share the works of famous illustrators who once worked for the Federal Government or whose work was commissioned by the Government.

Charley Harper, an American Modernist Artist, created a series of posters for the National Park Service to promote parks and wildlife areas. He described his style as “minimal realism” and said of bird illustrations that he painted the wing, not the feathers (see Poster 1).

Yours in Trust dates from 1939 and instructs us in how to help prevent forest fires. This poster was illustrated by James Montgomery Flagg (see Poster 2).

Produced in 1931 by the George Washington Bicentennial Commission, Flags of American Liberty, 1732-1932, is the oldest poster in the collection. It shows us the battle flags of the American Revolution, snake flags, pine tree flags, and of course the Stars and Stripes (see Poster 3).

Posters often reflect the social culture or changing societal norms. This is seen in “Cool Names for Women?,” a sexual harassment awareness and prevention  poster (see Poster 4).

No longer hidden, this visual collection has the potential to complement academic course work in public policy, history, communication studies, public health, and the sciences. It also can be used to enhance outreach activities to primary and secondary (K-12) students.

Though posters provide a snapshot in time, many of the messages are as true today as they were when they were first conveyed. Using the tips in Yours in Trust will still prevent forest fires—just ask Smokey Bear!

The content management system for the poster collection is easily navigated and provides multiple search options. There also is the capability to magnify and pan posters for closer viewing. Collection entries come complete with metadata. Search or browse this unique collection of Government posters, and share the artwork and messages with your library users.

What began as an effort to share illustrations of the famous, the digitized U.S. Government Posters Collection quickly evolved into a means of sharing much more. Anyone can access this collection that depicts the reality of times in U.S. history in an artistic way.

The University of Iowa has been a Federal depository library since 1884, serves as the regional depository for the state, and became a GPO digital content partner in September 2011.

Whatever holidays you celebrate, may they be safe and secure (see poster 5)!

News & Events

May 26, 2016
Beginning in July 2016, Public Health Reports (PHR) (HE 20.30:, item number 0497-A-01), the official journal of the U.S. Public... Read More ...
May 24, 2016
Many Federal depository libraries display the handy, “How to Locate a U.S. Government Publication” poster near their FDLP collection. It guides... Read More ...
May 24, 2016
A live training webinar, "CFPB: Your Money, Your Goals," will be presented on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. Register today for “CFPB:... Read More ...
May 19, 2016
The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) is pleased to announce that an updated PURL Usage Tool is coming this June, with new... Read More ...
May 16, 2016
A live training webinar, "Increasing Veterans’ Access with eBenefits," will be presented on Thursday, June 16, 2016. Register today for... Read More ...
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