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Marshall Plan Poster Contest

A selection of posters from the St. Catherine University collection. This exhibit places the posters into their historical context and examines the wider use of Marshall Plan propaganda in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

These posters were originally printed in 1950 as part of a contest promoting the European Recovery Program, better known as the Marshall Plan. Over 10,000 artists from 13 European Marshall Plan countries entered the contest, and the 25 winners were announced in May 1950. 13 of the winning posters are found in the St. Catherine University collections, including the first and second place winners ("All Our Colors to the Mast" and "Cooperation Intereuropeenne, Prosperite Intereuropeenne").

The poster contest was part of a wider publicity and propaganda campaign conducted at home and in Europe by the U.S. government and its European affiliates. The campaign aimed to raise awareness and support for the Marshall Plan in the wake of World War II, to promote goodwill toward economic recovery efforts, and to combat the rise of Communism and Communist propaganda. 

To this end, the campaign used films, exhibits, traveling troubadors, pamphlets, radio, and most every form of media available to spread its message across Western Europe. It was largely successful, as was the Marshall Plan itself.

While we have no definitive information on how the posters came to the St. Kate's collection, we do know that in the summer of 1950 a group of students and faculty from St. Catherine University, including art professor Peter Lupori, traveled to Europe on an "American Youth Abroad" tour. The group visited many of the countries involved in the poster contest. The posters themselves were mass-produced and would have been in wide distribution around the continent in summer 1950. It is likely that they were purchased or otherwise obtained on this trip and brought back to the University.

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