Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Princeton University Poster Collection


Collection ID:
Princeton University
Collection is in
. Some materials in
, and
Physical Description:
135 Cubic feet
10,690 posters
An extensive and comprehensive collection of posters from World War I and World War II.

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents
Primarily war-related posters.


The collection is arranged into six series.
Series 1: Pre-World War One, 1863-1917
Series 2: World War One, 1911-1923
Series 3: Between Wars, 1912-1939
Series 4: World War Two, 1939-1945
Series 5: Post World War Two, 1945-1948
Series 6: Unknown, 1913-1918

Biographical / Historical

Biographical / Historical
The Princeton University Library donated this extensive collection of World War I and World War II materials to the Smithsonian Institution in 1963 and 1967. The bulk of the 1963 donation, stored in six large wooden crates, was sent to an off site storage location. Other posters donated in 1963, primarily World War II British in origin, were stored in the Division of Political History; they were later transferred to the Division of Armed Forces History. In 1967, Princeton donated an additional five albums of posters that had been overlooked in 1963; these albums were also stored in the Division of Armed Forces History.
In 1990 and again in 1991, the NMAH Division of Conservation was awarded Smithsonian Research Resources grants to conserve and catalog the collection. The posters in the crates were in extremely precarious condition, evidencing extensive tears, water damage, dirt, mold, and insect damage. Their condition was so extreme that handling, cataloging, or mere counting was not deemed possible outside of a major rehousing project. In 1992, the NMAH Archives Center assumed curatorial responsibility for the collection and took over direction of the project.


Craig Orr
Digitization of the Princeton University Poster Collection was a collaboration of Google Arts and Culture and the Smithsonian Institution's Digitization Program Office. Catalog records were transcribed by digital volunteers through the Smithsonian Institution Transcription Center.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection donated by the Princeton University Library in 1963 and 1967.
Processing Information
Collection processed by Archives Center staff, 1991; 2018-2019.
Staff from the Digitization Program Office's Mass Digitization (Mass Digi) team, the National Museum of American History, and the Transcription Center worked together to digitize over 10,000 Princeton Posters' catalog sheets and import them into the Transcription Center as new projects. Created in the 1990's, these sheets contain information on when each poster was produced, what issuing organization created it, what language or languages it is written in, the content and topic of the poster, and more. Over a few months, 381 volunpeers transcribed all the data on each catalog sheet, recording this important information in record time. Alongside this work, the Mass Digi team collaborated with NMAH's Archives Center and the Division of Political and Military History,to digitize all of the posters themselves (totaling more than 18,000).
Digitization of the posters was completed by Creekside Digital, 2018-2019.
Existence and Location of Copies
Posters digitized and available online through the finding aid.

Using the Collection

Conditions Governing Use
Copyright status of items varies. Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
Preferred Citation
Princeton University Posters Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.


Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Posters -- 1860-1950 Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
War Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
World War, 1914-1918 -- Posters Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
World War, 1939-1945 -- Posters -- United States Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
Business Number: Phone: 202-633-3270
Fax Number: Fax: 202-786-2453