Persuasion In Propaganda

During World War II, American propaganda was used to increase support for the war and to ensure a commitment to an Allied victory. Posters were commissioned by branches of the U.S. Government such as the armed forces, recruiting bureaus, the Office of War Information, and the United States Treasury. Patriotic in nature, these prints stirred up pro-American feelings and helped mobilize citizens to support the war movement.

Within the realm of political art, I’m most fascinated by the persuasive power of propaganda posters. With just a simple design and a short (and sometimes not-so-sweet) slogan, prints gave off a powerful message, called people to action, and produced a lasting effect on the home front.

I’ve posted a video in tribute.

Watch this YouTube video for a look at some of the most iconic propaganda posters used in World War II.


‘Rosie the Riveter’ Rouses Women

It’s a compelling example of political propaganda: patriotic, convincing, confident, and strong.

“Rosie the Riveter” looks the ideal woman as she proudly pronounces “We Can Do It!” to fellow females in this 1942 World War II propaganda image.  A fictional product of the U.S. government, “Rosie the Riveter” was commissioned for creation to encourage women to join the work force and aid in the war effort.

A product of artist J. Howard Miller, “Rosie the Riveter” compelled women to join the wartime work force.

Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl

Norman Rockwell is also credited with creating a popular “Rosie the Riveter” image used to encourage women to aid the war effort. Rockwell’s “Rosie” appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

Harbor in December 1941 and the full-blown involvement of the U.S. in World War II, women were called upon to join a work force which had been severely depleted by the military draft. Because the idea of women working was unseemly and controversial, the U.S. government saw the value in launching extensive campaigns to persuade women to join the work force.

Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller was hired by the War Production Coordinating Committee to create a number of posters for the war effort, and “Rosie the Riveter” was his product. Miller based his “We Can Do It!” poster on a photograph taken of Michigan factory worker Geraldine Doyle.

Following Miller’s creation, other “Rosie’s” were conjured by artists of the day, most notably Norman Rockwell, whose own “Rosie” appeared on the May 29, 1943 edition of The Saturday Evening Post.

“Rosie” has come to symbolize the millions of real women who worked in America’s factories, plants, and shipyards during WWII and remains one of the most recognizable propaganda characters.

“Rosie’s” character found its way into other art forms such as music. Listen to the 1942 song, “Rosie the Riveter” by The Four Vagabonds.