Author

Sean Williams

Date of Award

2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Woody Holton

Abstract

For most Americans, the introduction to World War II posters, or even the entire field of posters during wartime in general, comes in the form of an elderly, yet bold looking man wearing red, white and blue. He wears a striped hat, and stands with his finger pointed outwards. The message he gives is clear --"I want YOU!" This image has been faithfully reproduced in social studies and history textbooks for years. (Indeed, both generations of my family saw such an image in their school books).

Uncle Sam, though, dapper as he may be, is merely one example of hundreds of posters created by government agencies, corporations, and even private citizens during World War II. These posters cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from nutrition, to victory gardens, to recruitment, to production, and many, many more.

With notable exceptions, works on American poster propaganda to date seem content to compile these documents into collections. Still, this paper stands on the shoulders of well-researched scholarship on World War II era posters, including Design for Victory: World War II Posters on the American Home Front, a source from which this entire project drew its inspiration, as well as The Thought War, a work which turns the analytical lens on Japanese wartime propaganda. More general works on propaganda and general history of the war are utilized in order to put these posters in their proper context.

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