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Security of War Information Campaign poster of Uncle Sam with his finger to his lips asking for silence

Object | Accession Number: 2015.562.8

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    Security of War Information Campaign poster of Uncle Sam with his finger to his lips asking for silence

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Security of War Information Campaign poster featuring the Uncle Sam icon with his finger to his mouth in a hushing gesture. This modification of the Uncle Sam image, created by Montgomery Flagg for World War I recruitment posters, was designed by Leon Helguera, a Mexican artist who immigrated to America in 1916. The Security of War Information Campaign, also known as the “hush-hush campaign,” was a cooperative project by the Army, Navy, and FBI. The project was undertaken by the Office of War Information (OWI) with the oversight of a Security Committee, which included representatives from the OWI, the Army, Navy, FBI, and other agencies. The campaign focused on educating the public about the need for discretion in their communication to prevent information from being leaked to the enemy. 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, and commissioned work from leading artists. The “careless talk series” originated in 1940 in Great Britain. It highlighted the many ways that careless talk could leak sensitive information that enemies would use to kill soldiers, sink ships, and undermine the war effort.
    Artwork Title
    I’m Counting on You!
    Series Title
    Security of War Information Campaign
    Date
    publication/distribution:  1943
    Geography
    publication: United States
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of David and Lucinda Pollack
    Markings
    front, top, printed, white : I’M COUNTING ON YOU!
    front, bottom, printed, white and red ink : DON’T DISCUSS: / TROOP MOVEMENTS / SHIP SAILINGS · WAR EQUIPMENT
    front, bottom left margin, printed, black ink : OWI Poster No. 78—28 ½” x 40” Additional copies may be obtained upon request from the Division of Public Inquiries, Office of War Information, Washington, D.C.
    front, bottom right margin, printed, black ink : [star] U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : 1943——O—534057
    Signature
    front, bottom left, printed, green ink : L Helguera
    Contributor
    Artist: Leon Helguera
    Publisher: United States Government Printing Office
    Distributor: United States Office of War Information
    Biography
    Leon Helguera (1899-1970) was a New York based commercial artist who was well known for designing posters and stamps. He was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States with relatives as a teenager in 1916. He worked at Fisher-McKenzie Inc. in Manhattan, and was commissioned by the Office of War Information’s (OWI) Foreign Language Division in January 1943 to produce four color posters designed to appeal to Americans of Mexican descent. He also designed a “United Nations” postage stamp for the OWI that was released by the United States Post Office on January 14, 1943.
    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

    Language
    English
    Classification
    Posters
    Category
    War propaganda
    Genre/Form
    Posters.
    Physical Description
    Large poster on white, medium weight paper with an image of Uncle Sam, a symbolic personification of the United States, emerging from a solid blue background with his finger against his lips in a shushing motion. Only his disembodied head, hand and wrist are visible against the background. He wears a large white top hat with a row of white stars within a blue band around the base of the crown, and vertical red stripes extending to the top. He has long white hair falling from under the hat that covers his ears, an aged face with dark, graying eyebrows and a long white goatee. He has a white shirt collar with a red bowtie that is obscured by his hand, which has a red and white striped shirt cuff. There is a line of large italicized white text along the top, a line of smaller italicized white text below the image, and two lines of red text along the bottom. Below the image is the artist’s signature in green ink. On the left and right bottom margins there is small fine print in black ink with a small star in front of the print on the right. The poster has three vertical and horizontal creases and a small tear on the bottom edge and another on the left edge. The upper right quarter of the back side has yellow and light brown stains along the creases.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 40.000 inches (101.6 cm) | Width: 28.500 inches (72.39 cm)
    Materials
    overall : paper, ink, pencil
    Inscription
    back, top center, handwritten, pencil : 61
    back, top right, handwritten, pencil : 01
    back, bottom right, handwritten, pencil, partially erased : X304 009 60

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use. No copyright information is known.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    United States.

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The poster was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2015 by David and Lucinda Pollack.
    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:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn539650

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