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Poster of a tattered US flag and black smoke commemorating Pearl Harbor

Object | Accession Number: 1988.42.19

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    Poster of a tattered US flag and black smoke commemorating Pearl Harbor


    Brief Narrative
    Poster commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, issued by the Office of War Information (OWI) to inspire resolve and motivate the American public in 1942. The poster was created by artist, Allen Saalburg, a muralist who had previously worked with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to design murals for the Central Park Zoo, the Arsenal building, and other buildings in New York City. The poster features a quote from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The black smoke and tattered American flag imagery recall the devastation of the Japanese attack on the Naval Base of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which killed over 2,000 soldiers, and destroyed approximately 200 planes and nearly 20 ships. The United States entered the war the next day, December 8, and the attack became a rallying cry for the war effort. Conflicting information regarding the attack led President Roosevelt to establish the OWI in June 1942. This office controlled the design and distribution of war information to the American public in print, radio, and film media. The OWI commissioned work from leading artists to create posters to inspire and instill confidence and patriotism in the American public. The OWI also ran information campaigns for civilian agencies, War Bond drives, and campaigns to ramp up economic production for the war effort. New posters were distributed every two weeks, with the stated goal of placing posters in every city and town in the United States.
    Alternate Title
    Remember Dec. 7th!
    publication/distribution:  1942
    publication: Washington (D.C.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of David and Zelda Silberman
    front, top, printed, white : ... we here highly resolve that these dead / shall not have died in vain ...
    front, bottom, printed, red ink : REMEMBER DEC. 7TH!
    front, bottom edge, printed, black ink : OWI Poster No. 14. 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 : 1942 – O - 491977
    front, bottom right, printed, blue ink : Allen Saalburg
    Artist: Allen Saalburg
    Printer: United States Government Printing Office
    Distributor: United States Office of War Information
    Subject: Allen Saalburg
    Allen Saalburg (1899-1987) was born in Rochelle, Illinois. His father, Charles, was a newspaper cartoonist and printer, and his older brother, Leslie, was an illustrator for men’s fashion magazines. Allen studied at the Art Students League in New York City and the Pratt Institute. In 1927, he travelled with his brother to France, where Allen had a one man show and exhibited paintings at Bernheim-Jeune. Allen returned to the US in 1930. He worked as an illustrator for magazines such as: “Fortune”, “Vogue”, “Vanity Fair”, the “Saturday Evening Post”, and others. In 1935, he was appointed as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) Director of Murals for the NYC Parks Department and designed murals for the Central Park Zoo, the Arsenal building, and other buildings in New York City. In 1937, Allen designed sets for the film, “The Green Pastures” and the play, “Two Bouquets on Broadway.” In the mid-1930s, he produced murals for the Pennsylvania Railroad, Bloomingdale’s, and the World’s Fair. During World War II, Allen created posters for the Office of War Information (OWI) to support the war effort. Allen was married twice: his first wife, Muriel King, was a fashion and costume designer, and his second wife, Mary Faulconer, was a magazine art director. After the war, Allen lived in Bucks County Pennsylvania, where he ran his studio, Canal Press.
    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 an a tattered and torn red, white, and blue United States’ flag at half-mast on a white halyard attached to a silver flagpole. Behind are billowing clouds of fiery, black smoke rising up against a blue sky. Two lines of white text are printed above the flag, while a line of larger red text is printed below. The artist’s name is printed in blue in the bottom right corner of the image. A line of small, black text is printed along the center of the bottom margin. The paper has two centered creases, one vertical and one horizontal. The lower left edge of the paper has small, stained spots and there is a small tear in the lower right. The back, lower half bears significant staining.
    overall: Height: 19.875 inches (50.483 cm) | Width: 13.875 inches (35.243 cm)
    overall : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    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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