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“Lest We Parish” 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 genocide. In order to help stop the total annihilation of the Armenian population, America sent humanitarians 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 was revived 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, clothing, and other essentials. The NER is credited with sheltering about 150,000 Armenian orphans and according to American historian Howard M. Sacher, “quite literally kept an entire nation alive.” The poster depicts a girl holding out her hands, as if asking for food, and asks for people to donate to the Campaign for $30,000,000. This poster was created by American artist Ethel Franklin Betts Bains in 1917. Betts Bains was an illustrator of primarily children’s books during the golden age of illustration. This poster was created and reproduced as a lithographic print at the time of its distribution.


WWI, poster, Near East Relief, NER, The American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief, lithographic print, propaganda