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US careless talk poster depicting a burning ship

Object | Accession Number: 1988.42.47

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    US careless talk poster depicting a burning ship


    Brief Narrative
    US careless talk poster depicting sailors in ripped clothing in a lifeboat with a burning tanker nearby as a warning to people to guard what they say because it could put military personnel in danger. The careless talk series of US propaganda posters was an Army Services project, distributed by the Office of War Information. This office was set up in June 1942 to manage the war on the Home Front by disseminating ideas, propaganda, and information about the war effort, such as the dangers of enemy spies. The OWI controlled the design and distribution of war information to the American public in posters, photographs, radio shows, and films. The careless talk series originated in 1940 in Great Britain. It highlighted the many ways that careless talk could leak sensitive information that our enemies would use to kill soldiers, sink ships, and undermine the war effort.
    Artwork Title
    A Careless Word... A Needless Sinking, OWI Poster no. 24
    Series Title
    Avoid Careless Talk
    publication/distribution:  1942
    publication: Washington (D.C.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of David and Zelda Silberman
    front, top left, white ink : A careless word…
    front, bottom, white on brown field : …A NEEDLESS SINKING
    front, bottom, black ink : OWI Poster No. 24. Additional copies may be obtained upon request from the Division of Public Inquiries, Office of War Information, Washington, D.C.
    front, bottom right corner, black ink : ✩ U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : 1942 – O - 502219
    Artist: Anton O. Fischer
    Issuer: Adjutant-General's Office, United States, Army Service Forces
    Printer: United States Government Printing Office
    Distributor: United States Office of War Information
    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
    Physical Description
    Offset color lithographic poster with a reproduction of a painting depicting the bow of a brown burning tanker in ¾ left profile on left and a lifeboat full of sailors on right amidst a blue and yellow sea. Red and yellow flames leap from the 3 storied square superstructure in the center of the ship, and from the water on right, sending large black smoke curling upward. In the right foreground is a lifeboat with 2 men in ripped shirts on left, one sitting with his head down and his arms folded across his knees, the other laying in the bottom of the boat. To the right are 3 overlapping men rowing oars and in front are 3 men in blue shirts and brown life vests looking at the sinking ship. The artist’s name is within the image in the bottom left.
    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

    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:
    2022-07-28 18:29:29
    This page:

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