Propaganda has been used throughout time by various organizations and/or nationalities. Today it is usually given a negative connotation, associated with decite and manipulation. However, what one individual might perceive as fallacious, another might find it as informative or factual. Many historians and philosophers have debated the basis of propaganda, yet regardless of interpreation or validity, it has always had a common feature: the intent to persuade. Propaganda equates to persuasion.
Prior to the Second World War, the U.S. government and the FDR Administration needed to persuade the American public on the real and perceived threats of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. At first the attempt was through the liberalistic ideals of the New Deal. Through the "Four-Freedoms" and "Fire-Side Chats" Roosevelt and other like-minded individuals promoted an American identity and a criteria of morals. As time passed, higher echelons of the government became more forthright in their actions. In 1940 Roosevelt signed the military peace-time draft in September, along with the Lend-Lease program to Great Britain a few months later.
However, a traumatizing defeat by the Japanese on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, sparked the flame of American emotions and actions: almost instantly Americans seemingly swiched from isolationists to internationalists. To ensure Americans understood the purpose of war and remained motivated, FDR established the Office of War Information (OWI) in 1942 with Elmer Davis as its director. The OWI existed as the main outlet for propaganda, especially the poster.
This exhibit explores the various aspects of OWI poster propaganda. I have divided the exhibit into four categories based on OWI intentions during the war: recruitment, morale, enemy denuciation, national unity, and work ethics. Some sections contain more posters than others and some contain posters which fulfill multiple roles, thereby are found in multiple sections. Almost all the posters (with the exception of two) are primary sources taken directly from the World War II Poster Collection at the Archives and Special Collections at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
As a disclaimer this exhibit is a summaryof my reseach, and does not cover the subject in full depth. For a comprehensive understanding of propaganda, posters, and/or World War II, the Bibliography section contains a variety of primary and secondary sources which I used in my main research.