Soviet Union posters

A collection of posters from the Soviet Union between 1919 and 1930 illustrates the concerns of a new Communist state. The posters date from the formative years of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Scottish politician Arthur Woodburn donated this collection to the National Library of Scotland after visiting the USSR in 1932.

Worldwide influence on art

During the Russian Revolution and Civil War (1917-1921), the Soviet Union produced many high quality political posters. Some of the more striking images have had an influence on art and design worldwide. Posters reflecting peacetime economic and social issues continued to appear in the decade following the Civil War.


Red Army achievements

Pro-Bolshevik posters from the Civil War period (1917-1921) highlight the achievements of the Red Army. These illustrations call on the population to support the Communists against the forces of counter-revolution.


New Economic Period

Most of the posters in our collection date from the New Economic Policy period. The Soviet Union relaxed its Bolshevik principles at this time to allow the country to recover from the Civil War.

Other posters portray the move towards industrialisation in the late 1920s.

Many are concerned with educating people about welfare issues, for example:

  • Childcare
  • Public health
  • Sanitation.


Campaign and film posters

A few posters support particular campaigns, such as:

  • Literacy and reading
  • Warning against the dangers of alcohol
  • The first Five Year Plan (1928-1932)
  • The transformation of agriculture.

We also have a small number of film posters from the Soviet Union.


Further resources at NLS

Search for these titles in our main catalogue:

  • 'The Bolshevik poster' by S White (New Haven, Connecticut, 1988). [NLS shelfmark: H8.89.127]
  • 'Constructivism in [the] Soviet poster' ('Konstruktivizm o sovetskom palate') (Moscow, 2004). [Shelfmark 8.165/13]
  • 'Film posters of the Russian avant-garde' by S Pack (Cologne, 1995). [Shelfmark: H9.96.168]
  • 'Iconography of power: Soviet political posters under Lenin and Stalin' by V Bonnell (Berkeley, California, 1997). [Shelfmark: H3.98.3866]
  • 'Kinoplakat' ('The cinema poster') by A Snopkov et al (Moscow, 2002). [Shelfmark: H9.202.541]
  • 'Kniga v russkom plakat' (Books in Russian posters') by N Baburina et al (Moscow, 2003). [Sheflmark: EL.3.204.10]
  • 'Moskva v plakate' ['Moscow in posters'] (Moscow, 2002). [Shelfmark: EL.3.205.3]
  • 'Okna TASS' ('The "windows" of TASS') by V Maslennikov (Moscow, 2007). [Shelfmark: HB2.208.10.628]
  • 'Plakat nemogo kino : Rossiia, 1900-1930' ('Posters of the Russian silent screen') by N I Baburina (Moscow, 2001). [Shelfmark: H9.202.527]
  • 'Plakaty voiny i pobedy' ('Posters of war and victory') by A Snopkpv et al (Moscow, 2005). [Shelfmark: HB2.208.2.169]
  • 'The posters of glasnost and perestroika' by V Litvinov et al (London, 1989). [Shelfmark: 8.52]
  • 'Power to the people : early Soviet propaganda posters in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem' by A Ward (Jerusalem, 2007). [Shelfmark: HB7.208.232]
  • 'Reklamnyi plakat v Rossii 1900-1920-e gody' ('Advertising posters in Russia, 1900-1920s') by E Klimova, I Zolotinkina (St Petersburg, 2010). [Shelfmark: HB6.211.1.84]
  • 'Revolutionary Soviet film posters' by M Constantine et al (Baltimore, 1974). [Shelfmark: H9.77.116]
  • 'The Russian poster from revolution to perestroika' (Glasgow, 1989). [Sheflmark: HP3.89.2025]
  • 'Russkii plakat XX veka, shedevry' ('Masterpieces of the 20th century Russian poster') by S N Artamonova (Moscow, 2000). [Shelfmark: 8.144/11]
  • 'Russkii reklamnyi plakat' ('The Russian advertising poster') by A Snopkov et al (Moscow, 2002). [Shelfmark: H9.202.109]
  • 'Russkii revoliutsionnyi plakat' ('The Russian revolutionary poster') by V Polonskii (Moscow, 1925). [Shelfmark: X.222.a]
  • 'Sovetskii reklamnyi plakat 1917-1932' ('The Soviet advertising poster 1917-1932') by V Liakhov (Moscow, 1972). [Shelfmark: H4.75.456]
  • 'The Soviet arts poster : theatre, cinema, ballet, circus' by N Baburina (London, 1990). [Shelfmark: 8.56]
  • 'The Soviet political poster' (Leningrad, 1973). [Shelfmark: FB.1.40(1-32)]
  • '[The] Soviet political poster'('Sovetskii politicheskii plakat') (Moscow, 2003). [Shelfmark: 8.165/12]
  • 'The Soviet theatrical poster' by A Borovskii (Leningrad, 1973). [Shelfmark: Pos.Box.6(87)]
  • 'Soviet war posters ca 1940 - 1945: the Tass poster series from the Hallward Library. University of Nottingham: a listing and guide' (Marlborough, 1992) [Shelfmark: HP2.92.2433]
  • 'Werben fur die Utopie: russische Plakatkunst des 20 Jahrhunderts' (Bietingen-Bissingen, 2004) [Shelfmark: MB3.207.6]
  • 'Zhenshchiny v russkom plakate' ('Women in Russian posters') (Moscow, 2001) [Shelfmark: 8.149/8]


Contact us

For more information about our Soviet Union posters collection, email Catherine Booth.


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