American Propaganda in World War II

*Post written by Jake Knecht, student assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

World War II bond poster "Ours to Fight For; Freedom from Want", 1943. Bond poster is from the William Sonntag collection, MSS 286-001.

“Ours to Fight For; Freedom from Want”, 1943. Source: William Sonntag collection (MSS 286-001).

During World War II, the American government employed a very intensive propaganda campaign to sway the American public to purchase war bonds. War bonds were essentially loans that the government would receive from paying citizens so that they could fund war efforts. As many families had reduced household income due to having one or more men fighting in the war, the government knew that enticing the average American to spend money on war bonds could be a tough sell; they would need to get creative and persuade the public in such a way that they would want to purchase war bonds.

The government’s solution was to create various forms of propaganda in order to tug at the heartstrings of the families who had someone they loved in the war. The idea was to make everyone realize how much the men who were fighting had to sacrifice, and in so doing, make the public realize how relatively little a sacrifice the price of a war bond was for the greater good. War bonds were not only depicted as helping to fund the war; they were to fund freedom and the future of America. This message and vision was largely effective in convincing Americans to purchase war bonds during World War II.

World War II bond poster "Let's All Fight; Buy War Bonds", 1942. Source: William Sonntag collection (MSS 286-042).

World War II bond poster “Let’s All Fight; Buy War Bonds”, 1942. Source: William Sonntag collection (MSS 286-042).

Propaganda for war bonds came in many forms: radio broadcasts, comic books, sporting events, and celebrity appearances and endorsements. Perhaps the most influential form of war bond propaganda came in the form of posters. Posters were colorful, powerful, and ultimately more emotional than other forms of propaganda due to the simple yet effective means through which they conveyed their messages to viewers. They contain some of the more memorable images from the war because many of the posters were made to appeal to the emotions of the American public.

World War II bond poster "To Have and to Hold; Buy War Bonds", 1942. Source: William Sonntag collection (MSS 286-043).

World War II bond poster “To Have and to Hold; Buy War Bonds”, 1942. Source: William Sonntag collection (MSS 286-043).

War bond posters oftentimes depicted soldiers either in or preparing for precarious situations so that the viewer would think about the danger soldiers are placing themselves in and want to buy bonds to help support them. Other posters depicted family and children in order to show the public what they were really protecting by purchasing war bonds. If you are interested in viewing war bond posters, the University Archives and Special Collections has a variety of them available, in addition to other material from World War II.

 

 

 

 

References

Riddle, L. (2016 August 6). American prpaganda in World War II. Retrieved from https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-ii/american-propaganda-world-war-ii.html

American women, World War II and propaganda (n.d.). Retrieved https://uki16.wordpress.com/war-bond-posters/

This entry was posted in American history, British History, European History, history, Student Assistants, World War 2. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s