History Stories

As the U.S. sent troops to the front lines, artists were recruited to encourage those at home to do their part.

When Britain and France went to war with Germany in 1939, Americans were divided over whether to join the war effort. It wouldn't be until the surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 that the United States would be thrust into World War II. Once U.S. troops were sent to the front lines, hundreds of artists were put to work to create posters that would rally support on the home front.

Citizens were invited to purchase war bonds and take on factory jobs to support production needs for the military. As men were sent to battlefields, women were asked to branch out and take on jobs as riveters, welders and electricians.

To preserve resources for the war effort, posters championed carpooling to save on gas, warned against wasting food and urged people to collect scrap metal to recycle into military materials. In the spring of 1942, rationing programs were implemented that set limits on everyday purchases.

While many posters touted positive patriotic messages, some tapped fear to rally support for the Allied side and caution against leaking information to spies. "Loose lips sink ships" became a famous saying. Meanwhile, graphic images depicted a blood-thirsty Adolph Hitler and racist imagery of Japanese people with sinister, exaggerated features.

Today, the posters a offer a glimpse into the nation's climate during World War II and how propaganda was used to link the home front to the front lines. 

Want more HISTORY? Read these stories:

Wartime Propaganda Helped Recruit the 'Hidden Army' of Women to Defeat Hitler

Uncovering the Secret Identity of Rosie the Riveter

8 Unusual Wartime Conservation Measures

How 'Tokyo Rose' Became WWII's Most Notorious Propagandist

The Pictures that Defined World War II

RELATED CONTENT