“Sure! We’ll Finish the Job. Victory Liberty Loan.”

As part of the ongoing exhibit of posters in Special Collections for Veterans Day, the students who created the exhibits also created entries for this blog. We will be posting these over the rest of the month of November.

Sure!  We'll Finish the Job

1992.004.5.76 “Sure! We’ll Finish the Job. Victory Liberty Loan.” Edwards & Deutsch Litho. Co., Chicago. Gerrit A. Beneker, artist. 1918. Poster produced in America, 96.2 x 66.2 cm

The 1918 World War I Poster, “Sure! We’ll Finish the Job, by Gerrit A. Beneker is a perfect description of how the United States Treasury wanted the United States’ citizens to react to the Victory Liberty Loan. The Victory Liberty loan was the fifth and final war bond put into action for the relief of World War I. When the Victory Liberty Loan first opened, the war had actually been over for five months; nonetheless, United States infantrymen remained overseas and depended on continued support from the country until it was safe to return home. This specific poster accurately illustrates the response that the United States Treasury was looking for in the people at home because it is telling them what they need to do to finally bring their boys home. This is characterized in Beneker’s poster by featuring a working man proudly digging into his pocket to give his money for yet another Liberty Loan. He dons four pins on his overalls that he received from the previous Liberty Loans he purchased and there is no question that he will be receiving another one. The headline that reads, “Sure! We’ll Finish the Job,” is supposed to be the words of the people and to encourage them to buy the bond that will literally finish the war and their contribution to it. This poster appeals to a very large group of people in the United States. Because the man is dressed in plain overalls and a work shirt that is not associated with anything specific, it appeals and is directed to the working class, farmers, and anyone who does physical labor that might identify with this character. It also gives the impression to the upper class and people of superior status that if this working man can give his money, then you certainly can too.
The painterly aesthetic and feel of this lithograph poster gives a soft and approachable impression. The color palette is also very all-American with its reds and blues giving a nostalgic and familiar feel to the audience, allowing for an easy connection to the war and Victory Liberty Loans. A work related to this poster would be one by LeRoy Baldridge, “To the Folks Back Home,” ca 1919. This poster is very different in aesthetic style, with its pen and ink drawing of a soldier, wash finish, and hand written text, but its text and message correlates directly. The poster reads, “To the folks back home; We are finishing our job. Are you finishing yours? Private A.E.F, On the Rhine.” Then at the bottom of the poster another line reads, “Victory Liberty Loans.” This poster has the same intentions and audience as Beneker’s, but a different approach. Instead of having the familiar ‘friend’ who is in the same position as you telling you to buy a Liberty Loan, this is coming from the soldiers who needs your help and is putting in their own effort, so you should put in yours.
Liberty Loan posters such as Beneker’s Victory Liberty Loan poster were necessary and a huge part of raising funds for World War I. By targeting specific audiences the campaigns could be more successful and reach a wider range of people. By using specific mediums, images, and language the United States Treasury who commissioned and produced these posters could reproduce the same message in different ways for multiple audience groups. This allows the campaign for Liberty Loans to be widespread and more profitable.

Publication and Exhibition History
Exhibition of poster at the New Britain Museum of American Art in a show called “Double Lives: American Painters as Illustrators.”
The poster is published in the book For “Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home Front” by Celia Malone Kingsbury.
The Library of Congress owns a print of this poster, as well as the University Library at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Additional Comparable Works in the Special Collections
Another poster by Gerrit Beneker with similar painterly attributes is “The Past is Behind Us, the Future is Ahead,” made in 1918 for World War I and the U.S. Department of Labor. Other posters with a similar feel and message in The University of Tulsa’s Special Collection include:
“Women! Help America’s Sons Win the War. Buy U.S. Government Bonds of the 2nd Liberty Loan of 1917” Edward & Deutsch Litho. Co., Chicago. R.H. Portenus, artist. 1917. Poster produced in America, 75.6 x 50.2 cm
“Shall We Be More Tender with Our Dollars Than with the Lives of Our Sons?….Buy a United States Government Bond of the 2nd Liberty Loan of 1917” Edwards & Deutsch Litho. Co., Chicago. 1917. Poster produced in America, 75.5 x 50.3 cm
“Help him win by Saving and Serving. Buy War Savings Stamps.” American Lithographic Co. Copyright 1918. Poster produced in America, 77 x 50.3 cm
Special Collections Poster Information
1992.004.5.76 “Sure! We’ll Finish the Job. Victory Liberty Loan.” Edwards & Deutsch Litho. Co., Chicago. Gerrit A. Beneker, artist. 1918. Poster produced in America, 96.2 x 66.2 cm

Archives of American Art. Gerrit A. Beneker Papers. Last modified 2012.
Encyclopedia Britannica. Liberty Loan Publicity Campaigns. Last modified on July 27,
2012. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/1922_Encyclopædia_Britannica
Kingsbury, Celia Malone. For Home and Country: World War I Propaganda on the Home
Front. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln London, 2010.
New Britain Museum of American Art. Off the Wall. Last modified 2010. http://www.
Paret, Peter. Persuasive Images: Posters of War and Revolution from Hoover Institution
Archives. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992.
Rawls, Walton. Wake Up, America!: World War I and the American Poster. New York,
New York: Abbeville Press, 1988.
The University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting
The American South. Last modified 2004. http://docsouth.unc.edu/wwi /41957/menu.html

Guest post by Sarah Powell


About Marc Carlson

The Librarian of Special Collections and University Archives, McFarlin Library, The University of Tulsa since November 2005.He holds a Masters in Library and Information Studies from the University of Oklahoma, and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Anthropology from Oklahoma State University. He has worked in McFarlin Library since 1986.
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