“Lest They Perish” was one of many posters issued during World War I to encourage support of the war. This poster was commissioned by the Near East Relief, a charity organization formed to support the victims of the Armenian Massacre. In order to help stop the total annihilation of the Armenian population, America sent humanitarians over to the Middle East and set up an emergency fund. The American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief was formed in 1915, and was headed by James L. Barton and Cleveland H. Dodge. They managed to raise millions for the relief of the Armenians and, through missionaries in Constantinople, the funds were able to be distributed. When America entered the war the life line was cut, but started again after the end of the war. Between 1915 and 1930, when the operations were not functioning, the NER raised about $117,000,000 in assistance along with food, cloths, and other essentials. The NER is credited with sheltering about 150,000 Armenian orphans and as stated by American historian Howard M. Sacher, “quite literally kept an entire nation alive.” The poster depicts a woman carrying a baby on her back amidst a destroyed city, and asks for people to donate for the Campaign for $30,000,000 (“They Shall Not Perish”, 2019). This poster was designed by William B. King in 1917. King was an American artist and illustrator known best for his work in propaganda posters.
The poster was created and reproduced as a lithographic print at the time of it’s distribution.
WWI, poster, Near East Relief, NER, The American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief