What Was the Committee on Public Information?

The Committee on Public Information was an organization assembled by President Woodrow Wilson for the purpose of turning public opinion in favor of United States involvement in World War I. The committee was led by George Creel, a Missouri journalist.

When Russia exited the war in 1917, President Wilson determined that American involvement would be necessary to defeat Germany and protect British and French interests. After declaring war on Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey, Wilson assembled the committee and gave it the mission of creating media that promoted public support for the war.

Creel used his talents as a journalist to create a Film Division and a News Division to broadcast pro-war messages. He also created a volunteer group, the Four-Minute Men, which consisted of thousands of men who would go out into communities across the country to spread war fervor.

Creel also commissioned Charles Dana Gibson for the illustration of war posters. Gibson, an energetic supporter of the war, assembled famous illustrators of the time to make up the Committee?s Division of Pictorial Publicity. The posters promoted armed forces enlistment and food conservation, among other causes.

Creel and the Committee eventually came under public scrutiny for their unscrupulous use of censorship and propaganda during the war, despite Creel writing three books that defended the Committee and President Wilson.