George F. Tyler War Poster Collection
George F. Tyler was born in 1884 in Newport, Rhode Island. A graduate of Harvard University, he moved to Philadelphia to pursue a banking career and married the former Stella Elkins, grand-daughter of William Elkins, a prominent Pennsylvania Railroad executive. As a wedding present, her father, George W. Elkins, built them a Georgian house that Stella Elkins Tyler donated to Temple University in 1935 for its art school.
During the Great War, Tyler volunteered for the Lafayette Flying Squadron in France and became a major in the U.S. Field Artillery. After the war, he began to collect Allied propaganda posters issued during the conflict, amassing a collection of over 1,500. This collection was donated to Temple University in 1937 and is now stored in the Special Collections Research Center of Temple University Libraries. Tyler later donated over 800 posters from World War II to the Temple Libraries.
Selected posters have been put on physical display by Temple University Libraries three times since the collection was acquired. In April of 1937, celebrating Mr. Tyler's donation, an exhibition was presented in the art gallery of the old Sullivan Memorial Library on the University's main campus. At that time, the collection itself was permanently housed in the library of Temple's Stella Elkins Tyler School of Fine Arts (now called the Tyler School of Art) in Elkins Park, just north of Philadelphia.
Three and a half years later, in November of 1940, selections from the collection were put on display a second time in the Sullivan Memorial Library. With the Second World War well underway, viewers were given the chance to revisit the emotions surrounding the global conflict that had failed to secure world peace. Temple History Department Chair Arthur N. Cook's exhibition program noted the important role of propaganda, stating, "There are many reasons why the vision of a peaceful democratic world proved to be only a beautiful dream, one element, the emotional, is frequently overlooked and deserves close attention in connection with this exhibit."
In April of 1980, the Libraries' Special Collections Department presented "Americans Go To War," an exhibition of war posters along with books, prints, and manuscripts in Samuel Paley Library. The exhibition's intention, as described in the accompanying program, was to highlight "the artistically detailed and handsomely lithographed posters of World War I against the bright and caricatured drawings and the photographs printed during World War II and the more textural, anti-war offset posters of Vietnam."
The current grant-funded project takes advantage of digital technology to provide online access to George F. Tyler's collection through this virtual exhibition as well as the Allied Posters of World War I collection, one of the numerous collections found on the Libraries' Digital Collections page.