The Art of War: Posters and Propaganda from the First World War at Hackney Museum


‘Step into your place' – was one of the rallying cries in 1914, and it is one of the iconic messages you can see as part of The Art of War: Posters and Propaganda from the First World War exhibition at Hackney Museum from 23 February.

This poster from the First World War, shows a united Britain, with all members of society going to war together. Everyone is shown carrying the tools of their trade or profession, with civilians gradually transforming into British infantrymen.

Women were also targeted and the ‘Women of Britain Say 'Go!' image shows how women were encouraged to get more men to join the army.

Over 100 original recruitment posters were donated to the borough in 1924 by Leonard Benjamin Franklin, the then MP for Hackney and preserved by Hackney Archives. A selection of these featured in Hackney Museum’s free exhibition were designed by graphic artists and creative agencies of the day. The posters were put up across the borough and recruitment offices were set up in public buildings signing up hundreds of men a day.

Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council
Thousands of men signed up to serve in WW1 and millions lost their lives. The war had a devastating impact on families and local communities, changing the area and the world forever.

At a time of national commemoration Hackney is giving people an opportunity to understand more about how people were recruited to fight, while learning about those who objected to the war.
Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council

Recruitment offices were generally in public buildings such as town halls. The 1/10th (County of London) Battalion (Hackney) was formed more or less where the Hackney Service Centre is today. Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment) 20th (Service) was formed in Shoreditch.

In Hackney, Shoreditch and Stoke Newington around 27,000 men responded to the recruitment campaigns and signed up to serve in the war. It affected everyone living in Hackney at the time and many millions more around the world.

The posters on display highlight how the conflict was viewed at the time, how advertising methods were used to recruit men and how the First World War affected the whole world.

In March, the Not in My Name exhibition will open at Hackney Archives. The exhibition highlights Hackney’s conscientious objectors, people who objected to the First World War when compulsory military conscription was introduced in March 1916.

Around 350 conscientious objectors are known to have lived in what is today the London Borough of Hackney. They came from many different backgrounds and had different motivations. However they were united in the objection to war.

In May last year, a plaque was installed to commemorate the first bomb of world war one that fell from a Zeppelin in the garden of The Nevill Arms, Stoke Newington on 30 May 1915.

A series of events for all ages will take place at Hackney Museum and Hackney Archives.

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