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US propaganda poster depicting World War II and Revolutionary War soldiers

Object | Accession Number: 1988.42.46

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    US propaganda poster depicting World War II and Revolutionary War soldiers


    Brief Narrative
    US propaganda poster featuring World War II soldiers marching in front of Revolutionary War soldiers. The poster associates World War II soldiers with Continental Army soldiers and, with the large caption, implies that the United States was fighting in World War II for the same reasons the nation fought the Revolutionary War at the end of the 18th century. The image was created by American-Jewish artist, Bernard Perlin, who studied at the Art Students League in New York and created post office murals for the Works Projects Administration (WPA) prior to the war. During the war, he created pro-war propaganda for the Office of War information (OWI), and later served as a war artist correspondent for Life and Fortune magazines. The need to manage information about the war on the home front led to the establishment of 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.
    Artwork Title
    Americans Will Always Fight for Liberty
    publication/distribution:  1943
    publication: Washington (D.C.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of David and Zelda Silberman
    front, top left, printed, white : 1778
    front, top right, printed, black ink : 1943
    front, bottom, printed, black ink : AMERICANS / will always fight for liberty
    front, bottom, printed, black ink : OWI Poster No. 26. Additional copies may be obtained upon request from the Division of Public Inquiries, Office of War Information, Washington, D.C.
    front, bottom right corner, printed, black ink : ✩ U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : 1943 – O – 502684.
    front, within image, on musket stock, printed, white : B. Perlin
    Artist: Bernard Perlin
    Printer: United States Government Printing Office
    Distributor: United States Office of War Information
    Subject: Bernard Perlin
    Bernard Perlin (1918-2014) was born in Richmond, Virginia, to Jewish parents, Davis and Anna Perlin. Bernard studied at the New York School of Design, National Academy of Design Art School, and the Art Students League in New York. In the late 1930s, he received the Kosciuszko Foundation Scholarship for study in Poland. Before going to Poland, Bernard spent time traveling through Europe, where he personally witnessed, Nazi discrimination of Jews in Germany. Once he returned to the United States, he received commissions from the Works Progress Administration for a mural for the South Orange, New Jersey Post Office, and another from the U.S. Maritime Commission for murals for the SS President Hayes.

    When the United States entered World War II, Bernard was barred from the military because he was openly homosexual. However, he was able to work for the Graphics Division of the Office of War Information (OWI), and designed several propaganda posters for the war effort. Later, he worked as a war correspondent for “Life” and “Fortune” magazines, serving time with commando forces in occupied Greece, and later in the South Pacific and Asia. Bernard was also aboard the USS Missouri for the official Japanese surrender in September 1945, and then remained in Asia for a time, to document the war's aftermath in Japan and China. After the war, Bernard lived both in the United States and abroad. He worked as an illustrator for Harper’s, Collier’s, and Fortune magazines, and continued to paint throughout his life. Bernard’s works are featured in prestigious institutions such as: the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Oxford, the Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art, and several other private collections and institutions worldwide.
    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 three World War II era US soldiers marching in unison as they cross in front of a line Revolutionary War era US soldiers. The World War II era soldiers are in left profile, marching in formation. They are wearing brown combat uniforms and long coats, and the first soldier has a US flag patch displayed prominently on the left shoulder. To their right, in the background of the image are the Revolutionary War era soldiers, facing forward and standing in line. They are predominantly dressed in white and blue uniforms, holding muskets in their right hands. Their uniforms are mismatched, tattered and torn, and their feet are mostly wrapped in scraps of cloth. The paper has a long, centered, vertical crease and three evenly spaced horizontal creases. There is a small hole in the center where the creases meet.
    overall: Height: 28.000 inches (71.12 cm) | Width: 22.000 inches (55.88 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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