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Historical Society of Pennsylvania World War II propaganda collection


Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

HSP's collection of World War II propaganda offers a glimpse into the visual world associated with the home front during the late 1930s to the mid 1940s. It is mainly comprised of posters, magazine advertisements, flyers, and pamphlets from a variety of governmental and nongovernmental agencies. The vast majority of the items focus on the European war and, with the exception of some of the war bond ads, make little mention of the Pacific conflict. The collection has been inventoried alphabetically by subject. Large materials have been placed into fourteen folders in a flat box (Box 1), while small materials take up four folders in a small document box (Box 2). Most items are in their original forms, though a few posters have been mounted onto cardboard.

Making up a significant portion of the collection are two folders of war bond posters and advertisements from the Victory Fund Committee and other agencies (Box 1, Folders 13-14). Box 1, Folder 11 contains recruiting posters from the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Women's Reserve ("Spars"), Marine Corps, Marine Corps Women's Reserve, Army, Navy, WAVES, and Air Corps. Items associated with the Seabees, some of which deal with recruitment, have been placed in Box 1, Folder 12. Recruitment posters and ads for U.S. Civil Service Commission and other civil service jobs targeting both women and men can be found in Box 1, Folder 3. There are Office of War Information posters warning against spreading rumors or giving information to the enemy in Box 1, Folder 2. The collection also includes a few British war propaganda posters, posters warning against forest fires (Box 1, Folder 1), and a series of Esso ads featuring "Famous gremlins you should know" (Box 2, Folder 3). Additionally, there are a number of unique items, including examples of V-mail (Box 1, Folder 8), Christmas cards (Box 2, Folder 2), and a few hand-painted placards.

Throughout the collection, researchers will find items from public agencies such as the U.S. Army Ordnance Department, Railroad Manpower Mobilization Committee, War Food Administration, Federal Housing Administration, Social Security Board, U.S. Employment Service, Internal Revenue Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boy Scouts of America, and Children's Bureau Commission on Children in Wartime. There are also a few posters from private companies such as F. W. Woolworth. A few items originated in Philadelphia offices, but most were printed and distributed by the national government.

This is an artificial collection created over time by HSP staff mostly through donations and purchases of individual images or groups of items.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Cary Majewicz
Finding Aid Date
; 2011
Processing made possible by a generous donation from Randall M. Miller.
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Collection Inventory

Accidents/Forest fires.
Box 1 Folder 1
Box 2 Folder 1
Box 1 Folder 2
Christmas cards.
Box 2 Folder 2
Civil Service.
Box 1 Folder 3
Box 1 Folder 4
Box 2 Folder 3
Box 1 Folder 5
Box 1 Folder 6
Box 1 Folder 7
Box 1 Folder 8
Box 1 Folder 9
Ordnance Department.
Box 2 Folder 4
Box 1 Folder 10
Box 1 Folder 11
Box 1 Folder 12
War bonds.
Box 1 Folder 13-14

Print, Suggest