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US war bonds poster of a Rockwell painting depicting a couple checking on their sleeping children

Object | Accession Number: 1988.42.3

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    US war bonds poster of a Rockwell painting depicting a couple checking on their sleeping children

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    Brief Narrative
    Four Freedoms war bonds poster featuring an image designed by Norman Rockwell in 1943. The poster shows a couple checking on their sleeping children, symbolizing the freedom from fear. It is one of a four-poster series using Rockwell's paintings, which were inspired by President Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms. He described these in his 1941 State of the Union Address (also called the Four Freedoms Speech): freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. The United States entered World War II in December 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Office of War Information (OWI) was established in June 1942, to control the message and imagery of government information about the war. This office controlled the design and distribution of war information to the American public in print, radio, and film media, and commissioned work from leading artists. Rockwell created a series of sketches about the Four Freedoms to support the war effort, but no one in Washington was interested in using them initially. The paintings were later published by the Saturday Evening Post beginning on February 26, 1943, and then reprinted, with permission, by the OWI. The OWI launched a nationwide tour with the paintings, raising $130 million dollars in war bond sales. They also offered the posters for sale in three different sizes, and four million sets of the posters were printed.
    Artwork Title
    Ours... to Fight for - Freedom From Fear
    Series Title
    Four Freedoms
    Buy War Bonds
    publication/distribution:  1943
    publication: Washington (D.C.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of David and Zelda Silberman
    front, top, printed, black ink : fight for
    front, bottom, printed, black ink : FREEDOM FROM FEAR
    front, right, below image, right side, printed, black ink : Painting from the Saturday Evening Post
    front, bottom, printed black ink : OWI POSTER No. 46 Additional copies may be obtained upon request from the Division of Public Inquiries, Office of War Information, Washington, D.C. / ✩ U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1943 – O - 511887
    front, within image, bottom left, printed, black ink : NORMAN ROCKWELL
    Artist: Norman Rockwell
    Printer: United States Government Printing Office
    Distributor: United States Office of War Information
    Subject: Norman Rockwell
    Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was born in New York City, New York. He studied art at The New York School of Art, The National Academy of Design and The Art Students League. While still a teenager, he was hired as art director of Boys’ Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America, and began a freelance career illustrating a variety of young people’s publications. Throughout his career Rockwell created covers for The Saturday Evening Post. In 1930, he married Mary Barstow, a schoolteacher, and they had three sons. In 1939, Rockwell and his family moved to Arlington, Vermont. In 1943, he painted the Four Freedoms, a series of four paintings based on a speech by President Franklin Roosevelt. The paintings toured the United States in a traveling exhibition and through the sale of war bonds, raised over $130 million for the war effort.
    The United States Office of War Information (OWI) was created on June 13, 1942, to centralize and control the content and production of government information and propaganda about the war. It coordinated the release of war news for domestic use, and using posters along with radio broadcasts, worked to promote patriotism, warn about foreign spies, and recruit women into war work. The office also established an overseas branch, which launched a large-scale information and propaganda campaign abroad. The government appealed to the public through popular culture and more than a quarter of a billion dollars' worth of advertising was donated during the first three years of the National Defense Savings Program. Victory in Europe was declared on May 8, 1945, and in Japan on September 2, 1945. The OWI ceased operation in September.

    Physical Details

    War propaganda
    War Posters.
    Physical Description
    Large, rectangular poster printed on off-white paper, featuring an image of a woman and a man standing next to a bed in which two young children are sleeping. The mother, wearing a knee-length white dress and blue sweater, leans over and tucks the white sheets around their chins. The father looks on, wearing a white, collared shirt with blue pants and suspenders. Down at his side, he holds his reading glasses and a newspaper bearing a frightening, wartime headline. A doll and a blanket are strewn on the floor. The room is shaded in dark blue tone with a warm yellow light shining up from the stairs in the background. Large, black text is printed in the wide margins above and below the image. The artist’s name is printed in black in the bottom left corner of the image. A line of small, black text is printed along the center of the bottom margin. The paper has a long, centered vertical crease and three evenly spaced horizontal creases. There is light staining along the border on the front.
    overall: Height: 27.875 inches (70.803 cm) | Width: 20.000 inches (50.8 cm)
    overall : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    United States.

    Administrative Notes

    The poster was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1988 by David and Zelda Silberman.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-28 07:50:47
    This page:

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