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Guide to the New-York Historical Society Collection of World War II Posters
1941-1946
 PR 55-8

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on September 26, 2018
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Title: New-York Historical Society collection of World War II posters
Dates [inclusive]: 1941-1946
Abstract: About 500 posters related to various aspects of the United States' mobilization during World War II. Topics include recruitment, war bonds, general war support, production, conservation, the need to avoid speaking freely about military matters, and more.
Quantity: 46 Linear feet in about 60 flat file folders, one roll, and several matted posters
Call Phrase: PR 55-8

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Scope and Contents

The collection is comprised of approximately 500 posters related to various aspects of the United States's mobilization for World War II. Topics include war financing (war bonds, donations); conservation and rationing; recruitment for the military and for the domestic workforce, including a target audience of women for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs), Nursing Corps, and homefront jobs; the need to avoid loose talk concerning military and defense matters; production of goods; quality and safety; general war support using patriotic, religious and other themes; and other matter.

Most of the posters were produced by the U.S. government, though there are many produced by corporate or other private interests. Most of the posters are oriented to a national audience; a few are from New York City and have a local target audience is local. The collection also holds some posters from Canada and, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom.

Arrangement

The collection is largely organized by subject matter. However, users should be aware that there are several folders of unsorted and miscellaneous posters, and some of the identified subjects also appear in those folders. Also, certain subjects cut across the files; for example, posters aimed at women and their role in the war effort can be found in several of the subject categories.

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Access Points

Subject Topics

  • War posters, American.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Canada -- Posters.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- United States -- Posters.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- War work.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Available by advance appointment only. To schedule an appointment, contact the Print Room Librarian at printroom@nyhistory.org.

Some of the materials, as noted in the containr list, are fragile and are restricted. Arrangements must be made in advance to allow for review by Conservation.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from: Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 270. Fax: (212) 579-8794.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as The New-York Historical Society Collection of World War II Posters, PR 55-8, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was compiled over time by New-York Historical Society from various donations and purchases.

Processing Information

The collection was processed and arranged topically at some point in time, perhaps in the 1990s. A container list was prepared in 2003 by archivist Jenny Gotwals as part of an overall Posters Collection (PR 55) finding aid. In 2018, archivist Larry Weimer prepared a finding aid for the World War II posters, incorporating and expanding on the 2003 container list.

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Container List

Container 1     Title Date
Folder: Flat File War Bonds and Stamps (4 folders)
Folder: Flat File Anti-Conversation Campaign (3 folders)

Scope and Contents

Posters on the theme of not discussing military or defense matters (e.g., "no loose talk") in order to avoid inadvertently providing information to the enemy.

Folder: Flat File Conservation (3 folders)
Folder: Flat Oversize Conservation
Folder: Flat File Rubber Conservation

Scope and Contents

Posters by the Bureau of Home Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Folder: Flat File Anti-Inflation Campaign (Rationing)
Folder: Flat File Recruitment (2 folders)

Scope and Contents

Nurse Corps; Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACS, and see also WAACS folder below); and general military service.

Folder: Flat Oversize Recruitment
Folder: Flat File Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs)

Scope and Contents

See also Recruitment folder above.

Folder: Flat File Safety
Folder: Flat File "Joe Dope" Safety Campaign

Scope and Contents

Artist: Will Eisner.

Folder: Flat File Production

Scope and Contents

Some of the posters in the folder are by the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies.

Folder: Flat Oversize Production
Folder: Flat File Army E Navy [Excellence]

Scope and Contents

Posters from companies noting their excellence in providing products to the military. The bulk of the posters are from the Auto-Ordnance Corporation, the manufacturer of the Thompson submachine gun, or Tommy gun. Two other companies are represented: Nabisco/National Biscuit Company and Burroughs Wellcome & Co.

Folder: Flat File Women. Homefront Workforce

Scope and Contents

Posters advocating employment in the workforce in support of the war effort; workplace safety specifically geared to women.

Folder: Flat File Civilian Defense (2 folders)

Scope and Contents

At least one of these posters was produced by the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies.

Folder: Flat File American Patriotism

Scope and Contents

Themes of liberty, patriotism, and the like for war support.

Folder: Flat File R. Hoe & Company National War Poster Competition Winners

Scope and Contents

Competition held at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), c Conducted under the auspices of Artists for Victory Inc.

Folder: Flat File Posters Incorporating Norman Rockwell Paintings
Folder: Flat File Foreign (3 folders)

Scope and Contents

From Canada and the United Kingdom.

Folder: Flat File Red Cross (2 folders)
Folder: Flat File "Camouflage Blinds the Enemy" Campaign
Folder: Flat File Campaigns for Donations
Folder: Flat File Book-related

Scope and Contents

One poster using a Nazi book burning as a reason to support the war effort and other posters calling for book donations.

Folder: Flat File Navy Training. Aircraft Recognition Tests
Folder: Flat File Navy Training. Equipment Maintenance (2 folders)
Folder: Flat File Air Force / Navy

Scope and Contents

Relates to the military services generally.

Folder: Flat File Car Cards (2 folders)
Folder: Flat File Message Banners
Folder: Flat Oversize "Official Navy Poster"

Scope and Contents

Series of posters produced by the Navy, many if not all with a focus on the Pacific theater and the need to defeat the Japanese.

Folder: Flat File Unsorted / Miscellaneous (2 folders)

Scope and Contents

Among the various topics here are: buy bonds; religious themed reasons for war support; safety; general military service-related; anti-conversation/loose talk; interamerican cooperation (cartoons of Latin American characters confronting Nazis); and a New York Central Railroad notice of train service suspensions to conserve coal.

Folder: Flat Oversize Unsorted / Miscellaneous

Scope and Contents

Topics include, among others, general war support/patriotism, buy bonds, civil defense, anti-conversation/loose talk, R. Hoe competition posters, and general military service.

Folder: Flat File Matted Posters (3 drawers)

Scope and Contents

Posters matted for a WWII poster exhibition at N-YHS in 1990-91.

Roll: 1 Rolled Posters

Scope and Contents

Damaged, fragile items, which include landing craft posters.

Folder: Flat File Unsorted Posters (12 folders) (RESTRICTED)

Conditions Governing Access

These posters relate to various subjects. Many are fragile and torn. Many are unsorted, mixed with WWI era posters that are also fragile. Access must be arranged in advance and coordinated with Conservation.

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