Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Mobilizing For War
At the Truman Presidential Museum, March 19 - September 5, 2005
View Poster Slideshow

It was a global war like nothing before it. The world's armies and navies engaged in mortal combat in the Atlantic and the Pacific, in Europe and in Asia, on land, on sea, and in the air. But the war was not waged by troops alone. Entire populations were mobilized in active support of the war effort. To maintain public morale and the public commitment for the long haul, nations employed many techniques and utilized all available communication media. The printed poster was one of the most effective ways of motivating the public. Posters could be placed anywhere to provide citizens with constant reminders to give more, produce more, and sacrifice more for the war effort.

Posters were not only a vital communication medium, they also symbolized an important art form during the Second World War. Produced by government agencies and by commercial firms, posters conveyed their messages through a combination of emotional illustrations and memorable phrases of text. They inspired patriotism while urging citizens to make sacrifices for their national cause.

Displayed here is a selection of Second World War posters from the Truman Library collection. They address such diverse topics as wartime security, enlistment, production of food and war materials, salvage and conservation, patriotic inspiration, relief efforts, and funding of the war through the sale of war bonds. The majority of the posters displayed were originally collected by Doris Garrett Shanklin of Winchester, Massachusetts, whose home was used as a Red Cross bandage wrapping station during the war.

Related link: Voices from World War II