World War II Posters

Other WWII Propaganda Poster posts

Many posters from the US Home Front during World War II emphasized the war effort in terms of production, recycling, self sacrifice, and resourcefulness. Here is a random sampling of posters focused on production.

Rubber was scarce because most rubber tree plantations were in the Philippines, which was seized by Japan, or in British or Dutch colonies in South East Asia such as Singapore which had been overrun by the Japanese. (The sap of the rubber tree is latex from which rubber is actually made.) While the US had other sources, Brazil being one, there was still a major shortage of rubber. Buying new tires for your car in the US in WW Two was almost impossible.

Title: Defense needs rubber : save your tires /
Date: 1941.
Agency: United States. Office for Emergency Management. Division of Information.

The number of scrap drives during the war, along with paper drives, rubber drives, aluminum drives, etc. were primarily designed to involve the American people in the war effort. The existing network of community organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, were effectively utilized by the US government to make everyone feel they not only had a stake in the war, which they obviously did, but that they had done something to help make victory possible. There are vast numbers of photos from WW Two showing Boy Scouts or members of other civic groups standing on huge piles of paper or scrap or what have you.

Title: Scrap /
Date: 1942.
Agency: United States. Dept. of Agriculture. War Boards.

“Give ’em both barrels,” which shows a riveter with his rivet gun and a soldier with his machine gun, was the type of imagery which often appeared on posters urging more production. Showing the similarity of the job of war workers and the “job” of soldiers was a constant theme throughout the war. Since such programs as rationing depended on voluntary compliance, the emphasis in most war posters is on a not so subtle ‘either/or’ choice. ‘Either’ you increase production of war equipment ‘or’ an American GI will suffer because of your action.

Title: Give ’em both barrels /
Date: 1941.
Agency: United States. Office for Emergency Management. Division of Information.
Title: “Every man, woman and child is a partner” /
Date: 1942.
Agency: United States. War Production Board.
Title: Don’t let it happen here! : your production must prevent it! /
Date: 1941.
Agency: United States. Navy Dept. Bureau of Ordnance.
Title: Women in the war : we can’t win without them /
Date: 1942.
Agency: United States. War Manpower Commission.

[Images courtesy of Northwestern Digital Library.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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