Work Ethics and Contributions
A majority of Americans during World War II were not front-lines soldiers but rather at home and working. Thereby, it can be argued that a priority existed to persuade the general populace at home. Historian James Sparrow mentions in his book Warfare State that “OWI guidelines… listed production and the need to work harder as one of the six main themes to emphasize posters”. Propaganda on production frequently cajoled the public on war related work, because if an individual cannot fight on the frontlines themselves the next best alternative is to work as a side-hand, on the home-front, in a factory, which would contribute to the heroic patriotic-American warrior while simultaneously saving lives.
A remarkable example of such a goal from the OWI is a poster on the left titled Strong in the strength of the Lord we who fight in the people’s cause will never stop until that cause is won, which features three arms: one extending a large grappling wrench, a rifle, and a small curvature wrench. The poster attempts to espouse the unity of American work ethic, as the majority of Americans work in the factory, while a small, yet brave minority fights against a common enemy. Even the minute details reinforce the message of “unity” because each arm is designed and dressed differently. The arm with the oversized grappling wrench is relatively larger to that on the right, while it wears an enormous industrial glove. The arm on the right is small and bare, resembling the wrench itself, suggesting that someone at that time—possibly a female, could only handle. The poster showcases not only the bond between civilian and soldier, but that of male and female.
Not only was factory work glamorized but agriculture was an essential variable for the nation’s war-effort. Work on a farm… this Summer: Join the U.S. Crop Corps is an excellent example of the ideal working rural American family. This poster features a seemingly comfortable or content couple with the male holding a pitchfork as he stands proudly behind his wife. The female smiles as she stares off into the distance holding a lush and bountiful harvest, proud of her and her husband’s hard work. The poster romanticizes the simple rural farmer and their humble practice, as they provide for the troops abroad, which gives the impression that any American can contribute and defeat the enemy.
Another aspect of work ethics was blatant financial obligations. Objectives such as bond buying was propagandized through Norman Rockwell's “Four-Freedom” posters. Since Rockwell’s posters clearly stated an objective for the American public to buy war bonds, his works are arguably a hybrid of poster and advertisement. To clarify, in one of Rockwell’s posters to the left, states “Save Freedom of Worship: Each According to the Dictates of His Own Conscience: BUY WAR BONDS!” The image shows various humble, yet concerned or fearful individuals. The ambiance of the poster is generally melancholic, which gives the suggestion that YOU the individual can prevent this woeful state, and preserve our religions by contributing to the war through bond buying.
Lastly, rationing was another significant aspect of civilian work ethic: to perserve food items for military personnel and prevent unnecessary waste in a time of limited resources. The bottom poster Do with less-so they'll have enough! Rationing Gives You Your Fair Share is an iconic example of the rationing propaganda of the OWI. To contribute to the the war is to contribute to the soldiers' food and water and subsequent success. Look how happy the soldier looks in the poster! That's because some individual in American displayed true altruistism by sacrificing an aspect of their life or luxery for the greater-good of America. Furthermore, if military personnel were well-fed and cared for, it was of greater odds that individual might survive the war because the civilan population provided all the opportunities to do so.
 James T Sparrow, Warfare State: World War II Americans and the Age of Big Government, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 169.