The archives was the fortunate recipient of a recent donation of fifteen original World War II posters. Prior to being donated to the archives, the posters were mounted in archival frames and displayed in the donor’s home. This collection sheds light on the little-known history of wartime posters and their tremendous influence on the home front.
In addition to posters made by the U.S. government, businesses and private organizations also produced posters in vast quantities. Government concern about regulating the content, production, and distribution of posters led to the establishment of the Office of War Information (OWI) in 1942. The OWI was also responsible for developing themes to guide the creation of war information content such as “The Need to Work” and “The Need to Sacrifice.” These themes are clearly depicted in the posters that make up this collection, which emphasize production, safety/security, food conservation, and buying war bonds.
Although the OWI was responsible for approving posters, many different agencies within the U.S. government were involved in their design. This collection includes posters created by the Incentive Division of the Navy Department, the War Food Administration, the Office of Economic Stabilization, the U.S. Treasury Department, and the War Department Safety Council.
World War II posters played a vital role in establishing and maintaining the public’s understanding of the impact that their actions had on the war effort. These posters sought to help individuals more fully recognize the contributions they could make to the war effort at their jobs and in their homes. By linking home front activities to the overall war effort, the posters were very effective in encouraging the public’s participation in government initiatives and making individuals feel that they were doing their part.
The posters are an excellent addition to the Marshall Foundation’s vast collection of more than 800 World War I, World War II, and Marshall Plan-era posters from the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, and Germany. Currently 516 of the posters have been digitized and are available for viewing on the Marshall Foundation website.
The Marshall Foundation plans to display some of the newly donated posters in the exhibit “What We’re Made Of,” part of the Let’s Get a Move On sequence of the Marshall Legacy Series, which will be opening on September 15th and running through December 2016. Don’t miss your chance to see these remarkable posters when they are displayed for the first time at the Marshall Foundation.