With the back to the wall: WWI text posters

Text posters were used as a key means of communication during the First World War. As soon as the German enemy entered the country, the press was immediately subject to heavy restrictions. These posters were the chief means of communicating with the population, and this state of affairs continued from that moment until the city was liberated more than four years later. These wall posters served to keep the population informed about developments during the war and the impact of the struggle on human beings and animals. They provided a clear description of what was going on in the city, while offering a powerful image of the behaviour the occupying forces expected from the population. Posters were subsequently also used to report executions.

Consequently text posters offer an extremely important record of day-to-day life inFlandersduring the First World War. Against the background of the commemorations of the First World War and the increased interest in the social dimensions of the conflict, these posters offer a wealth of information to both professional and non-professional researchers. They are outstanding educational tools for teaching purposes and can also be regarded as a time machine to help those keen on the subject to gain a better understanding of how people lived during the war.

In spite of the enormous value of these text posters, they are hardly ever shown to the public and are also kept in anything but optimum conditions, not to mention that  they were often printed on inferior-quality paper and many of them were already damaged and soiled before ending up in the archives. In order to remedy this situation, the Ghent City Archives are creating the cultural heritage project Tekstaffiches: spiegel van het dagelijks leven tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog. Funded by the Flemish government, this project is designed to locate, document, restore, digitalize, and sustainably preserve  the First World War text posters and and to make them accessible to the widest possible audience. To that end the Ghent City Archives are joining forces with Erfgoedcel CO7, FARO, In Flanders Fields Museum,  Packed vzw, the West Flanders City Archives, the Aalst City Archives, Lier City Archives, Ghent University Library and the VIAA.

Consult the text posters of the different villages, cities and towns:

collection In Flanders Fields Museum
collection Stadsarchief Gent
collection Stadsarchief Aalst
collection stadsarchief Antwerpen
collection Bibliotheek Brugge
collection Provinciearchief West-Vlaanderen
collection Provinciebibliotheek West-Vlaanderen (Tolhuis)
collection gemeente Evergem

Contact: Dr. Tim De Doncker

With the back to the wall: WWI text posters