Having been so prevalent during World War II, compiling a list of top five US posters from this era is a difficult task and open to interpretation. Below is one such attempt focusing on posters that continue to be highly recognized some 70+ years later.
Significance of WWII Posters
During WWII, the United States used posters as a way to deeply connect with the American people in an effort to ignite their hatred for the enemy, their support for the Allies and support the increased need for war production, victory gardens, rationing and war bonds. The posters ignited a passion among the people and a unity that has been unmatched since. Today, 70+ years later, many of these posters are still highly recognizable and carry a tremendous amount of loyalty among WWII era citizens and collectors of WWII posters or memorabilia.
I Want You - Though initially used in WWI, the number one poster on any World War II list should be Uncle Sam’s “I Want You for U.S. Army”. The Uncle Sam figure – as pictured on this poster – has continued to be an American icon both on and off the poster.
We Can Do It - The “We Can Do It” poster earned its place on this list due to the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” and her flexed muscles supporting the newly mandated role of the women in the work force, while also promoting their strength and ability to make a significant difference in the war efforts. Rosie is still highly recognizable today.
Demember December 7th – This poster depicts the beginning of the United States involvement in WWII. Pearl Harbor is noted as the incident that “awakened the sleeping giant”. The poster continued to fuel the rage by capturing the emotion felt by the Americans as a result of this unforeseen attack.
Victory Garden – A number of Victory Garden posters were distributed throughout WWII, to encourage citizens to grow their own food, thus preserving the much needed meals for our troops. Due to its patriotic nature, the term “victory garden” was implemented.
Buy War Bonds – Purchasing war bonds was encouraged and marketed as a patriotic show of support. The success of this campaign netted over $135 billion in liberty bonds. While the majority of those purchases came from banks, corporations and insurance companies, the campaign successfully targeted citizens, which contributed $36 billion of the overall total. Children accounted for almost $1 billion of the total sold through school participation and encouragement.
No doubt, the total number of United States posters issued throughout World War II is unfathomable, making a definitive top five list almost impossible. The top five posters listed above no doubt earned top rank due to their significant impact on World War II patriotism