If this is a project to document the popular songs of the Great War, then why (you might ask) include posters that in many instances ostensibly have little or nothing to do with the music? Well, yes, it’s the popular songs of the day that we’re interested in; but that’s because we’re mainly interested in people. It’s not a project about the Great War per se, nor narrowly about the music of the war, but about how ordinary people muddled their way through those turbulent years and how popular song–then as ever–helped them to do so. In our project proposal we lament the fact that in most memory institutions:
almost no attention is paid to the determinative role of music in the shaping of the mainstream social history of Britain, tending to more narrowly focus instead on the history of popular music in its own right, as a derivative cultural expression of an era rather than as an active agent in the very making of history. Yet, far more than mere entertainment, popular music played a significant part both in engineering public perceptions of and attitudes towards the Great War and also in charting social change during and in the immediate aftermath of the war: as propaganda (for and against) and consensus-building, as reportage, as social and political commentary, and as a mirror to important social transformations.
And so we believe that it would be wholly against the purpose and spirit of the project to focus on the music without responsible reference to the broader context of the myriad messages that constituted the overarching narrative that shaped ordinary people’s lives and perceptions.
The posters and leaflets are partitioned into the following galleries:
- Music Hall and revue posters
- Recruiting posters
- Propaganda and fundraising posters
- Gramophone and record advertisements
Propaganda and fundraising posters
An excellent repository of World War One recruiting and propaganda posters can be found at:
World War 1 Propaganda Posters
Gramophone and record advertisements
A comprehensive collection of advertisements for Decca gramophones may be found at:
Vintage Decca Adverts