About War Posters
“The function of the war poster is to make coherent and acceptable a basically incoherent and irrational ordeal of killing, suffering, and destruction that violates every accepted principle of morality and decent living,” comments O.W. Riegel in the introduction to Posters of World War I and World War II in the George C. Marshall Research Foundation (1979). To achieve this requires propaganda methods, and war posters of all countries and times thus bear a remarkable similarity. Every nation portrays its warriors as noble, its women as compassionate and virtuous, and its war aims as righteous. The enemy, on the other hand, is portrayed as misguided, evil, and fighting for an ignoble cause.
World War I marked the first large-scale use of the poster for political purposes and saw a democratized art employed in a new kind of “democratized” war, that is, a war that involved entire populations. World War II posters were generally less fervent, emotional, and compelling than those of World War I. One of the reasons was a new sophistication regarding the poster and propaganda in general engendered by postwar disillusionment and the exposure of the frauds of atrocity propaganda. It was felt that propaganda was most effective when it was least propagandistic. Another reason was the appearance by World War II of a number of other new propaganda weapons and strategies. Radio, film, newspapers, public loudspeakers, airborne leaflets and newspapers all combined to subordinate and reduce the importance of the poster.
Posters were important, however, as simple announcements or publicity – for such things as appeals for production, the conservation of fats, the availability of war bonds for purchase, and exhortations to stop careless talk. They also created a sense of involvement in a national mission by providing constant reminders through one image or another that “this is my war, and I am a part of it.”
About the U.S. World War II Posters Collection
The collection consists of a total of 61 posters, 57 of which date from World War II. Two posters, undated, were produced by the New York State W.P.A. Art Project, probably from the 1930s, and two posters date from after the end of the war and were produced by the United Nations Department of Public Information to support their cause. The collection includes six posters designed by Walt Disney and four by Norman Rockwell.
Folder Listing by Office of Origin
- New York State W.P.A. Project
- Office of Education
- Office of Price Administration
- Office of War Information
- Norman Rockwell Designs
- Solid Fuels Administration
- Timken Roller Bearing Company
- Treasury Department
- United Nations
- U.S. Army
- U.S.Army, Recruiting Publicity Bureau,
- Women’s Army Corps
- Walt Disney Designs
New York State W.P.A. Project
Strengthen Good Neighbor Policy – Understand Our Southern Neighbors. Your Lot in a Totalitarian State.
Office of Education
The Four Freedoms. (1941-O-406668).
Office of Price Administration
Cost of Living. “I Pay No More Than Ceiling Prices…I Pay My Ration Points In Full.” (1944-0-580381).
Office of War Information
…Because Somebody Talked. (1944-O-579038). Signed and dated in the plate lower right.
We Caught Hell! – Someone Must Have Talked. (1944-O-567525). Signed indistinctly lower right.
We’ll Take Care Of The Rising Sun. You Take Care Of Rising Prices. n.d.
I’m Out To Lick Runaway Prices. Let’s All Follow The 7-Key Plan To Hold Prices Down. n.d. Signed in the plate “James Montgomery Flagg” lower right.
You Can Lick Runaway Prices. You Hold The 7 Keys To Hold Down Prices. n.d. Artist: James Montgomery Flagg.
Careless Talk…Got There First. Artist: Herbert Morton Stoops. (1944-0-593271).
Americans Suffer When Careless Talk Kills! Artist: Harry Anderson. (1943-0-558552). Singed in the plate “Harry Anderson” lower right.
Norman Rockwell Designs
Save Freedom of Worship: Buy War Bonds. OWI Poster No. 43 (1943-0-510256).
Save Freedom of Speech: Buy War Bonds. OWI Poster No. 44 (1943-0-510257).
Ours…to fight for: Freedom From Want. OWI Poster No. 45 (1943-O-511886).
Ours…to fight for: Freedom From Fear. OWI Poster No. 46 (1943-O-511887).
Solid Fuels Administration
Your Government Warns Prepare For Winter Now! Fuel Is Scarce… Conserve It! (1944-0-594484).
Up Your Bond Paying Through Payroll Savings. An Official War Message. (1943-0-539069).
The Timken Roller Bearing Company, Canton 6, Ohio
Admiral King Needs Your Help – Buy War Bonds! Artist: McClelland Barclay. n.d.
Admiral Stark Says Every Branch Of The Service Needs Your Help – Buy Another War Bond Today! Copyright 1944.
Admiral Halsey Needs Your Support–Buy War Bonds! Artist: John Falter USNR. n.d.
Admiral Horne Says: Buy War Bonds – And Keep Them! Copyright 1945.
Admiral Nimitz Is Banking On You – Buy War Bonds! Artist: Dean Cornwell. Copyright 1944.
General Chennault Asks Your Support – Buy Another War Bond Today! Copyright 1944.
Admiral Kirk Urges You To Buy More War Bonds! Copyright: 1944.
General Patton Says: Buy More Bonds! Copyright 1944.
Help General Patch Do The Job – Buy War Bonds! Copyright 1945.
General Arnold Needs Your Support – Buy War Bonds! Copyright 1945. Artist: Ray Prohaska.
Stand By General Marshall! Artist: McClelland Barclay. Copyright 1943.
Don’t Let General MacArthur Down – Buy War Bonds! Copyright 1943.
Support General Eisenhower – Buy War Bonds! Copyright 1944.
An Appeal From General Vandegrift – Buy War Bonds! Copyright 1944.
A Vital Message From General Stilwell! Buy More War Bonds Today! Copyright 1944.
…Let’s Get This Shield Up! Buy Extra War Bonds Today. We Bought Extra War Bonds 4th War Loan. (1943-O-563251).
Buying A Bond Is No Sacrifice. Missing in Action… We Bought Extra War Bonds 4th War Loan. (1943-O-563538). Signed in the plate “Bingham” center right.
Now…All Together. 7th War Loan. Artist: C.C. Beall. Painted from Associated Press Photo of U.S. Marines at Iwo Jima. (1945-0-637980).
Protect His Future. Buy And Keep War Bonds. Artist: Ruth Nichols. (1944-0-626443).
To Have And To Hold! War Bonds. (1944-0-576074). [2 copies].
CARE Is Costly. Buy And Hold War Bonds. Artist: Adolph Treidler. (1945-0-651671).
Back ‘Em Up. Buy Extra Bonds. (1944-0-591998). Artist: Boris Chaliapin. [2 copies]
Victory Loan. Buy Your Extra Bonds – Here. (1945-0- 665000).
Let ‘Em Have It. Buy Extra War Bonds. We Bought Extra War Bonds 4th War Loan. (1943-0-563183).
Buy Your Extra 6th War Loan Bonds Here. (1944-0-610771).
The Sky’s The Limit. Keep Buying War Bonds. 6th War Loan. Artist: Courtney Allen. (1944-0-609249).
Next! Japan. 6th War Loan. Artist: Bingham. (1944-0- 610930) [2 copies].
Calling All Americans. Your Help Is Needed In The Fifth War Loan. Printed by Frederick Photogelatine Press, Inc.
Victory – Now You Can Invest In It! Victory Loan. (1945- 0-666315). [2 copies].
Buy That Invasion Bond! Artist: R. Moore. (1944-0-597798).
85 Million Americans Hold War Bonds. (1945-0-629877).
United Nations. U.N. Department of Public Information, 1947. Artist: Eveleigh. [2 copies]
Vigil For Peace: U.N. Observers. U.N. Department of Public Information, n.d.
Wings Over America. Air Corps U.S. Army. Artist: Tom B. Woodburn. Copyright 1939.
The United States Army. Then-Now-Forever. Artist: Tom B. Woodburn. Copyright 1940.
U.S. Army, Recruiting Publicity Bureau, Women’s Army Corps
Topographic Draftsman, ARMY GROUND FORCES. Artist: Ramus. (PC-86-RPB-1-22-44-50M).
Radio Repairing, ARMY SERVICE FORCES. Artist: Ramus. (PC-87-RPB-1-22-44-50M).
Both bear this text: Woman’s Place in War. The Army of the United States has 239 kinds of jobs for women. The Women’s Army Corps. [Recruiting Office address "832 Elm St., Manchester, N.H." written in ink at bottom].
Walt Disney Designs
Each poster carries the text: “One of Many Official/Army Navy Insignia/ Designed by Walt Disney.” All signed in the plate ” cWalt Disney.”
Mosquito Fleet. American Motor Torpedo Boats. Buy U.S. War Bonds And Stamps.
45th Pursuit Squadron. Buy U.S. War Bonds And Stamps.
69th Quartermaster Battalion. (LM) Company C. Buy U.S. War Bonds And Stamps.
Truck Drivers Battery “B” 202nd Coastal Artillery (AA). Buy U.S. War Bonds And Stamps.
Women’s Ambulance & Defense Corps. Buy U.S. War Bonds And Stamps.
Alaska Defense Force. Buy U.S. War Bonds And Stamps.
Win-Or Else! Let’s Show Them. n.d.